Favorite athlete: One of my favorite athletes right now is Najee Harris, RB for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I loved watching him play in college for Alabama and everything he could do on the field from hurdling defenders to catching the ball as a RB.
Favorite team: My favorite team is the Pittsburgh Steelers. My dad grew up a Steelers fan and so I was taught very young to love the steel curtain.
Favorite memory competing in sports: My favorite sports memory definitely has to be the district championship game against Pennridge. A huge underdog victory that I will never forget forever.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: A couple years ago we had a coach who was very good at beat-boxing, so all the players would always beat-box in the locker room or even before watching film in the LGI on the microphone. It was something that everyone loved doing and was also very comical.
Music on playlist: Back in Black (ACDC), Ima Boss (Meek Mill), Thunderstruck (ACDC)
Future plans: Go to college and get a degree in Business and also play football for all 4 years at the college level.
One goal before turning 30: To travel outside the country and visit Italy.
One thing people don’t know about me: My first childhood home was in Pennridge.
By Mary Jane Souder
Football is something of a family affair for Brayden Porter.
His father, Chuck Porter, was a standout football player at Souderton and is a coach of the freshman team. His uncle, Matt Freed (his mother’s brother), also had a stellar career at Souderton and went on to earn every accolade in the book during a remarkable four-year career at East Stroudsburg University.
“I never got to see Chuck play, but Brayden’s running style reminds me a lot of Matt Freed,” Souderton coach Ed Gallagher said. “There are a lot of times I watch Brayden run, and he reminds me so much of Matt.”
For Porter, it’s high praise indeed to be compared to a player that was named to three different All-American teams and was the only defensive player in the nation (Freed was a linebacker) on the regional ballot for the Harlon Hill Award given to the top player in Division II.
“When Matt was in college, I was four or five, so I don’t remember him playing, but as I grew up, I heard the stories,” Porter said. “I got to hear about him and how good he was.”
One thing for certain, Porter inherited a passion for football that runs deep in his family.
“I grew up watching football on Saturdays and Sundays, college and NFL, just growing up loving the game, just learning how to play, learning all about it,” he said. “I learned to love it. It was part of me just to go out and watch and play it.”
The Souderton senior began to leave his mark last fall in his team’s run to an SOL Continental Conference and the program’s first ever District One 6A title.
“It was crazy,” he said. “We didn’t even know if we would have a season. We were lifting outside as a team that summer. We have a weight room right inside the high school, but they said we couldn’t have more than 10-15 people in there.
“At one point, they said we weren’t allowed to have people in it so then we decided – we picked up all the bars, all the barbells, all the dumbbells, and we had to move outside, and we could lift outside with masks on.
“We finally were told we’d have a shortened season, and we said, ‘Okay, we just have to win five games so we can get in the playoffs and get at least one or two more games.’ We did that, and once we got to the playoffs, we just kept going, and we were rolling. We had no idea what would happen, we had no idea if we would get shut down randomly – it was just fun playing every week and just going out knowing not every day is guaranteed, so we had to come out and play our best and just go from there.”
In the Indians’ first game of the season against Quakertown last fall, Porter, the team’s starting linebacker, was thrust into a prominent role out of the backfield when then senior Jalen White was injured.
“At halftime, I was told I was going to go in and play in the one set we have,” Porter recalled. “I wasn’t expecting that - I was just expecting to play linebacker. I was just very scared because it was my first varsity game, and I had to go in a big game playing Quakertown, who’s one of our big rivals. It was fun stepping in and just competing.”
Porter became an immediate contributor, and in both of his team’s district playoff games, he ran for over 100 yards and scored several touchdowns.
“Brayden’s progression has been excellent,” Gallagher said. “He had a really good year last year. Especially when Jalen (White) hurt his thumb early in the year, Brayden really carried the load for us.
“Honestly, we knew he was going to be really good last year. We saw the kind of running style he had. It screams to me fullback – not like your typical big bruising fullback, but a fullback in our offense – we’ve had Koby Kahn and Nick Guthre, those running backs might have some size, but they’ve got speed and can run between the tackles. Brayden really follows in that image very well. The kid has been a really good running back his whole life – it was just trying to find the right spot for him. We expected him to be our main ball carrier this year.”
In the season’s early weeks, the script did not exactly go as planned. In Souderton’s season opener at North Penn, Porter suffered a shoulder injury.
“In the third or fourth play, I got tackled from behind and I landed on my shoulder,” he said. “I could just feel it walking back to the huddle. It wasn’t real bad yet, but after the next play, it started bothering me and I knew something was up.”
Porter was sidelined the remainder of the game – a 42-27 loss in a game the Indians led 17-14 at the half,
“Brayden’s banged up, (Sean) McGoldrick is banged up and coming out and Shaun Purvy was out for the game,” Gallagher said. “Brayden’s our starting outside linebacker, and he hasn’t played a snap of defense this season. For the first series of defense, we had to put his backup in already. We were already playing behind the eight ball against a very good North Penn team, and it got worse as the game went on.”
“I was very bummed,” Porter said. “It was such a big game. We had such high hopes going into it.
“It’s been 30-plus years we haven’t been able to beat North Penn, and we knew we had a good squad. We didn’t lose a ton of kids from last year, so we thought we could come out and bring some fire. Going into halftime, we thought we could do it, but then we started losing other kids too. It was a bummer.”
Porter saw some action the following week carrying the football in a shutout win over Harry S Truman. A week later in a win over Council Rock North, he gave glimpses of the player Gallagher envisioned when the season started.
“Brayden had two spectacular runs for touchdowns in the second quarter that opened up the game a little bit,” the Indians’ coach said. “The first run he made someone miss in the hole, made a cut and just exploded. He really showed off his speed, which was impressive.
“The other run he just ran like a man possessed. He was getting close to the end zone and just carried a couple of people in. It was really a sight to see.”
“I definitely felt more like myself,” Porter said. “It was our first home game with fans coming back. It was a big adrenalin rush for me, and it felt really good to get back on the field like that in front of the fans.
“The whole week when it hurt – I was bummed out that I couldn’t help the team out. I wasn’t 100 percent for offense either, and it definitely affected the way I looked at practice and how I came out and performed. I persevered through it, and it’s good.”
The plan is to rotate Porter in at linebacker in the upcoming game before returning to playing both sides of the ball fulltime.
Football wasn’t Porter’s only sport. He also played baseball and basketball. He continued both until eighth grade and still plays intramural basketball on the community level for SHYBA.
“I just loved sports in general,” he said. “I just loved throwing the ball around whatever it was, but I really liked football.
“My dad played football for Souderton so he got me into it as well. I just like it. I grew up playing Braves and haven’t stopped playing since.”
Since his flag football playing days, Porter has been a running back, although he did play on the offensive line his first year of tackle, but it wasn’t long before he was back to running the football and excelling. This year he is a captain of an Indians’ squad that is defending its division and district titles.
“We know we have a target on our backs since we won the district championship last year, so we know we’re going to have to come out firing since every team is going to want to beat us,” Porter said. “We just have to come out with fire and play through it. We still have high hopes.”
Porter is an undisputed leader of this year’s squad.
“He’s more a lead by example captain,” Gallagher said. “He’s not a rah rah, get in your face type leader. The kids respect him and listen to him.”
The Indians’ coach has also had had an opportunity to see Porter in the classroom as his Algebra II teacher several years ago.
“You learn more about their personality when you teach them because you’re not just experiencing them out on the field,” Gallagher said. “When I had him in Algrebra II, you could see some of his personality coming out. I also had Matt Freed in Algebra II and he acted the same way.
“I don’t want to compare him to his uncle, but he’s more like his uncle than either one of his parents. I know his parents – they’re great people, a really good family. They’ve been Souderton football people for life. I’ve known Brayden growing up, and I really enjoy his personality. I love talking to the kid.”
Porter admits he prefers leading by example.
“I don’t typically like to yell at people or try and give too much advice,” he said. “I just try to make sure everyone is on the same page, and we’re all together as a team.
“At practices, I’m trying to get everybody to just be on the same task and ready to go – just make sure everyone’s okay and check in on the rest of the team basically.”
Porter takes those leadership qualities into the school setting where he has been a member of the LINK Crew, a select group of upperclassmen who help ease the transition to high school for freshmen as well as helping students wherever needed. He is also a member of the school’s Athletic Leadership Council.
Although uncertain of his plans for next year, he is looking to attend college and major in business. Football will most certainly be part of his future.
“I just want to continue talking to college coaches and see everything I have at the end of the year,” Porter said. “I want to get through football season first and then make choices from there.”
Listening to his coach tell it, Porter will have plenty of opportunities when it comes time to choose a college for reasons that extend beyond his outstanding talent on the football field.
“He’s very respectful,” Gallagher said. “You see him in the hall – he makes eye contact and wants to talk to you. He’s got good grades, he’s just a great kid – he’s going to have a lot of nice options."