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La Habra's Porter is 2011-12 male athlete of the year
Sports provide Aaron Porter anger-management opportunities.
"If I get mad during football," Porter said, "I can do something about it."
He did something, something good. In football, the La Habra senior was Freeway League most valuable player and Orange County defensive player of the year.
"In baseball, if I get mad I just play worse," Porter said.
He must have kept his cool. In baseball, Porter was Freeway League most valuable player and All-Orange County first team.
Porter also was CIF-Southern Section Southwest Division football defensive player of the year, and All-CIF Division 4 first team in baseball.
For such consistently high performance, Porter is the Orange County male athlete of the year for 2011-12.
This past fall, Porter, 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, broke his own school single-season record for tackles, recorded 111/2sacks, force five fumbles and had two interceptions.
When injuries left La Habra shorthanded at running back a few weeks into the season, Porter accepted the challenge of carrying the football for the Highlanders. He rushed for 865 yards, averaging 9 yards a carry, and 17 touchdowns. Porter also caught nine passes for 104 yards and three touchdowns.
On the baseball field, Porter batted .489 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs and was an outstanding defensive center fielder. His eight homers were the second-most in Orange County. He had 11 doubles, was 12 for 13 on stolen-base attempts, and even pitched, too, as the team's closer and compiled three saves.
During his senior year, Porter accepted a football scholarship from UCLA, with the condition that he also could play baseball at UCLA. To thrive in Bruins football and baseball, Porter knows he needs to continue improve.
"For football, getting better at change of direction is one of the things I'm working on now," he said. "For baseball, it's hitting. My hitting can always get better."
Working to get better is something at which Porter excels, according to one of his La Habra coaches.
"Aaron has always put in so much time to do things the right away," La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta said. "He loves playing sports and he knew if he worked hard that good things were going to happen."
Porter said the hard work was not always voluntary. His father Tony Porter, also La Habra's football defensive coordinator, is a motivator.
"He's been there to push me to get better every day," Aaron said. "After baseball practice, he'd make sure I would lift weights even when I didn't want to."
Porter was a starting receiver as a freshman on the 2008 La Habra football team that won a CIF championship. He moved to linebacker for '09, but a broken ankle suffered in a nonleague game against San Clemente shortened his season. He was healthy enough to play baseball, and made All-Freeway League that sophomore year.
He made a strong return to football as a junior in 2009, helping the Highlanders win a county-record fourth consecutive CIF football title. Porter was Freeway League and CIF-SS Southwest Division defensive player of the year in '09. On the baseball field, he had another all-league season, batting .457 with four home runs, 23 RBIs and posting a pitching record of 5-2.
As wonderful as Porter's senior football season was individually, the team came up just short of getting to another CIF championship game. The Highlanders trailed El Toro by 34 points late in the third quarter of their Southwest Division semifinal. Porter rushed for three touchdowns as La Habra rallied, but El Toro prevailed, 47-41.
After the game, Mazzotta said of Porter, "He almost willed us to win tonight. He's been doing that all season."
On the gridiron or on the diamond, Porter led La Habra to plenty of victories.
"For us coaches," Mazzotta said, "a guy like Aaron Porter comes around once in a lifetime."