October 16, 2004
Tom Porras’ football career spanned many years and took him to all kinds of locales on the globe.
A quarterback, Porras had a beat-up football suitcase that sported stickers from cities in the United States, Canadian and Arena football leagues.
As a result, his son, Tyler, grew up almost like a military brat.
"We pretty much put a different helmet on him every year, wherever we were playing at the time," the elder Porras said.
After his career ended, Tom Porras settled his family in Scottsdale. The football program at Saguaro High is glad that was the final sticker on the suitcase, no more so than on Friday night.
Tyler Porras, a junior running back, ignited the Sabercats with 185 yards rushing and two touchdowns in a 24-22 victory at archrival Chaparral that gave Saguaro the inside track to the 4A East Sky Region championship.
"I know he’s been in a lot of places," Sabercats coach Mike Reardon said, "but we’re fortunate that he wound up here."
Saguaro was expecting to have a 1-2 backfield punch, with Porras and C.J. Venezia, a senior. But Venezia suffered a neck injury in the opening game of the season, putting the primary running responsibility on the shoulders of Porras.
"The coaches prepared us physically before the season, so in case one of us went down, there wouldn’t be a drop-off," Porras said. "Everyone else on the offense stepped it up, and no one got down."
Porras has a speed and shiftiness that belies his lanky, 6-foot, 185-pound frame. And he has displayed great durability, rushing for 535 yards on 68 carries (a 7.9-yard average) with five TDs in the Sabercats’ six games prior to Friday’s contest.
"We said to him, ‘Hey Tyler, we’re going to run you until your tongue falls out,’ " Reardon said. "He said, ‘OK, just give me the ball.’ That’s how he is. He is a hell of a competitor."
Tom Porras fell in love with Scottsdale while playing with the Arizona Wranglers and Outlaws of the USFL. While still a player, he started training young quarterbacks in the Valley during his offseasons.
It quickly became evident that his son would not a QB for Porras to groom.
"I can’t throw the ball worth a lick," Tyler Porras said, laughing. "I found that out in fifth grade, I think. But I have some really good running genes."
The elder Porras has still found a way to aid his son’s career, as he serves as Saguaro’s running backs coach.
"He runs a lot stronger than he looks like," Tom Porras said. "People won’t appreciate that until he is bigger, and that’s fine. But the best thing about him is that he’s got great character and is totally focused — on the field, in the classroom — and that will help him at the next level."
There will certainly be no argument from Chaparral.
The Sabercats won after a crazy final few minutes in which the Firebirds fumbled twice deep in their own territory, setting up Saguaro’s winning field goal. However, the victory would not have been possible without the earlier work of the welltraveled, darting-anddashing running back.
"This was the game," Tyler Porras said. "This is what I’d been waiting for all season. I had never beaten these guys before. They killed us every time. I was sick of that, and we did something about it."