SOUTH PORTLAND — On the day Max Porter arrived in this world, his father had a decision: be in the delivery room for the birth of his youngest son, or put on his helmet and shoulder pads and go play semipro football in that night’s game.

Mike Porter chose to play in the game.

“The females weren’t too happy with me,” said Porter, only a little sheepishly.

His teammates welcomed their middle linebacker to the field with a testosterone-fueled roar. “During the game there was an announcement that my son was born. The fans cheered. That was nice.”

Max Porter is now 18 and Thursday was Senior Night before the Kennebunk-South Portland high school football game, and more cheers. Dad didn’t mind saying how proud he felt. Mom (Debbie) shared the same emotion. She got the rose, too.

Max Porter is a middle linebacker and co-captain for the Red Riots. No, there never was much doubt that Max would play football and play his father’s position.

In Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium, not too many miles away, Portland played Thornton Academy. Nate Porter, all of 6-foot-4 and more than 240 pounds, is a senior tackle and co-captain for Portland. His father, Lucas, was a star at the same position.

Many families can claim similar generational links. But there’s a richness to the Porter family that makes them a little different.

“Football is our common ground,” said Mike Porter, the eldest of Michael and Georgia Porter’s five children.

“You don’t want to get us talking politics (at family gatherings) because we’re all different. Football is what we all share.”

Mike Porter graduated from Portland, went to the Air Force Academy for a year, then transferred to the University of New Hampshire, where he was a star linebacker.

Luke Porter was a starting offensive lineman at the University of Maine.

Then there’s Quinton Porter, the youngest of the five football-playing siblings.

On the short list of Maine’s all-time best quarterbacks, you could put him in the top three with little argument. He went from Portland High to Boston College to the Houston Texans and is in his third season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.

Being a Porter family member comes with certain bragging rights and other perks, not that the cousins took advantage. Being a Porter playing football also means there are big shoes to fill, pun intended.

“When I was coming into high school I felt I had to be good to keep up the family reputation,” said Nate Porter.

“Hearing my dad’s stories, I kept trying and trying. Then I decided I was just going to be the best I could be.”

Max Porter remembers strangers approaching his father at supermarkets. Mike Porter did play football with an aggressive passion that bordered on craziness. People who watched didn’t forget.

“We gave our sons the genes,” said Mike Porter. “They had to earn everything else.”

Talking about Nate, Luke Porter puts it another way: “I built the doors and let him choose which door to walk through.”

Nate and Max are not one-dimensional. Nate is a scholar, ranked 13th in a senior class of about 270. Ivy League schools such as Dartmouth and Princeton are interested. So are a number of others. He mentors freshmen players. He taught himself to play a bass guitar before taking up an acoustic model.

Max, who visits the University of New Hampshire today, doesn’t play an instrument but shares the family’s love of a wide range of music preferences.

Uncle Quint, for instance, also taught himself the guitar and has a fondness for Bob Dylan. Max has a greater appreciation for Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.

Max recently learned American Sign Language. He can now communicate with a man in the neighborhood who can neither see nor hear. Max signs into his hand.

On the field, he’s a motor and loves contact. His goal is to make 150 tackles this season. Including the playoffs, he’s on pace to do it.

“Nate is a gentle giant,” said Luke Porter. “Whistle to whistle, he plays with a lot of emotion, a lot of intensity. He’s faster and stronger, and plays with more leverage with a lower pad level.”

Understand that this is a large, supportive and loving family that frequently comes together at home or at football games. “I look up into the stands sometimes and I can see 10 people from both sides of the family,” said Max Porter. More family will be at South Portland in two weeks for the annual Battle of the Bridge rivalry with Portland.

“We had one play drawn up last year just for the game, so Nate and I could face each other,” said Max. “It was called Porter-on-Porter Crime.”

It was a run with Max the lead blocker and it was aimed at Nate. “It didn’t work,” said Nate. “We were in a stunt and I wasn’t there for Max to block.”

Best of friends, the two will meet on the field as co-captains of their teams for the coin toss. It will be a moment they won’t forget.


Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:
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Twitter: SteveSolloway