As West High School celebrated homecoming Friday, the thoughts of Viking football players and coaches were with one alum who tragically could not be in attendance.
The Vikings have dedicated the 2019 season to former tight end and defensive end Aaran Porter, a 2018 graduate who died from injuries sustained in a February stabbing. To celebrate his memory, players wear a "#80 Porter" decal on the back of their helmets and break team huddles with a chant of "AP."
Porter was an integral part of Friday's homecoming matchup against South. His sister Antwanae and brother Mahtel were named honorary captains, while current players carried his No. 80 jersey out for the coin toss as a dedication to a player whose death has clearly left a void in the program.
"He was the poster (boy) that we would put up for Viking pride," coach Derrick Dunham said. "He exhibited everything that had to do with our school, being a guy who stood up in front of everybody as a role model (of) how to carry himself with high character. He was just a young man your team would rally around because he carried himself with so much pride.”
Porter's pride seemed to carry over to his former team Friday, as the Vikings rushed for 287 yards and scored 15 consecutive points to close out a 29-14 win over in-city rival South.
“We were playing for our man AP upstairs," said running back LJ Laulu, who ran for 89 yards and three touchdowns Friday. "We dedicated the season to him.”
While pleased with the win, Dunham was more satisfied with the grit his team showed in responding after South scored 14 unanswered points to tie the game in the third quarter, saying the performance is one Porter would have gotten behind.
“It’s a really satisfying feeling watching them compete like Aaran would have competed, win, lose or draw," he said. "It wasn’t all about football (but) we were fortunate to come out on top.”
KENNEDY 40, ARVIN 6
It took the Thunderbirds most of the first half to get started, but once they did, they were hard to stop. Francisco Medina rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns as Kennedy (6-0, 2-0 in SSL) scored 40 straight points to erase an early 6-0 deficit and cruised past the Bears (2-3, 0-1). Arvin controlled the ball in the first quarter, capitalizing on a 21-yard first down off a fake punt. The Bears opened the scoring on a short pass play, capping a 14-yard drive to lead 6-0. RFK took the lead for good in the second quarter when Jose Cota found Loreto Beltran for an 8-yard touchdown. Medina then scored on a 4-yard run to make it 13-6 at the half. He later scored on a 38-yard run on his first touch of the second half and then busted off a 60-yard TD run to build Kennedy’s lead to 27-6. Thunderbirds’ fullback Jesus Nuno had a 61-yard touchdown run and finished with 103 yards rushing on four carries. Backup quarterback Steven Lucas capped the scoring with a 2-yard run.
WASCO 35, DELANO 7
Rodrick Scott rushed for 198 yards and three scores, including a 30-yard TD run, to lead Wasco (3-2) past Delano (0-5). Christian Alvarez added 160 yards and a touchdown on the ground for Wasco, which built a 28-0 lead. Defensively, Juju Manzano had two interceptions and Andre Cordova contributed six tackles and an interception.
SHAFTER 48, TAFT 15
Jackson Sanchez threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores to lead the Generals (2-4, 1-1 SSL) past the Wildcats (3-3, 0-2). Nelson Hernandez rushed for three touchdowns, while Chris Lindsey and Felix Chacon scored through the air.
MORRO BAY 27, MIRA MONTE 14
The Lions (1-4) struggled to score in the red zone and fell short on the road. Mira Monte was stopped on a 4th-and-goal from the Pirates’ 3-yard-line late in the first half, and also fumbled inside the 10 in the second half. The Lions opened the scoring on an 18-yard touchdown run by Jaulynee Riggens with 3:05 left in the first quarter, but Morro Bay (3-2) scored the next 27 points and led 27-7 late in the third quarter. Mira Monte’s Shamar Oliver, who had 128 yards rushing on 19 carries, cut the deficit to 13 points on a 2-yard scoring run with 1:19 left in the third quarter.