(Editor’s note: MTN Sports began recognizing some of the best football players in Montana history on July 2 with the launch of the #MTTop40. The series started with defensive backs and will run eight weeks, featuring one position each week, concluding with quarterbacks the week of Aug. 20-24 to coincide with Montana’s high school football season opener. We’ve wrapped up the defense, also profiling the defensive linemen and linebackers, and started the offense with the offensive linemen, tight ends and wide receivers. This week, we focus on the running backs.)
Running backs: No. 5 — Steve Kracher, Columbia Falls.
No. 4 running back — Kerry Porter, Great Falls High
Kerry Porter stamped his name in numerous record books during his all-state prep career at Great Falls High and all-American journey at Washington State.
Kerry Porter stat sheet
Porter starred on the track and gridiron at Great Falls in the late 1970s and early 1980s, setting Great Falls’ freshman record in the 100-yard dash with a time of 10.3 seconds. He clocked a time of 10.81 seconds in the 100-meter dash at the 1982 state track and field meet. He was an all-state running back for the Bison but missed part of his senior season with an injury.
Porter went on to have an all-American career at Washington State, rushing for more than 100 yards in 10 games. In the 1983 season alone, Porter had seven 100-yard games on his way to a 1,000 yards, one of just 12 1,000-yard rushing seasons in program history. For his career, Porter carried the ball 560 times (the fourth-most in WSU history) for 2,618 yards (the sixth-most) and 19 touchdowns (the fifth-most). He earned first-team all-conference honors in 1983 and second-team all-conference recognition in 1986, when he was also a second-team Sporting News all-American. He carried the ball 205 times for 921 yards and four touchdowns during the ’86 season.
The Buffalo Bills selected Porter in the seventh round of the 1987 NFL Draft. He bounced around the league, playing for the Bills, Los Angeles Raiders and Denver Broncos, until retiring after the 1990 season. Porter appeared in 35 career games.
… on Porter:
Former Great Falls High football coach Dale Pohle: “When I think back about the whole things, two things when you evaluate a running back, power and speed. Those are the two things right away that come to mind for me. He was big as a sophomore, like 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, then he got up to 185, and he could run the ball. He was powerful in-between the tackles, but he was also a really good trackster. The 100-, 200- and 400-yard dash. He could hit it up inside and keep you honest, but he could also break you and go around the corner. He had two features right there, but probably his third and best feature, he knew when to cut it back and when he cut it back, no one ever caught him from behind. He had some great tools.
“The best thing with that is when you talk to your young kids coming through, because some of the other traits he excelled in, he was a hard, hard worker. He always set the work mode at the highest level, even after two-a-days he would still come in and get his session in the weight room. In the summer he would go to the morning session, our young kids would come in and he would go get a couple lifts in, but he set such a good example for them. That’s the biggest thing when I look at him. And that he was a great student.
“It really does (say a lot about Montana). I think that with the population of the state we have and the number of kids that have played in the pro level, it’s a credit to the coaches in Montana and the people in Montana. He can go play in something like that and it was special teams he played on. That’s tough duty when you’re going down there to break up a wedge or things like that. I think you have to look at that part of it, too. He did what he had to do to survive (in the NFL) and that’s the bottom line.”
Former Helena High assistant coach Mark Samson: “There were just things that with him you had to take into account. He was a stud. He went on to a great career after he was done in high school out at Washington State and so forth. The physical presence of that man was the biggest thing. When I first saw him and thought, ‘That guy’s bigger than what the scouting report says he is.’ But he was a good running back. He was a good one, a really good one. He is one of the better ones I know this school has ever produced, by far.