Porter learned, worked with best

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 11, 1999

Claude Porter played for one of the best high school coaches around in A.I. Rexinger at Natchez High from 1945-48.

He also worked with, coached against and raised other outstanding coaches.

But it was his exploits on the athletic field that have earned him selection to the Copiah-Lincoln Athletic Hall of Fame.

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Porter will be inducted into the Wesson school Hall Oct. 23 for his exploits in football, basketball and baseball. Natchezian Alex Sandel will also be inducted that day.

Porter played football at Natchez High from 1945-48, playing end on a team that went 10-1 before losing to Greenville 6-0 in the Shrimp Bowl.

&uot;Coach Rexinger was a wonderful and unique person,&uot;&160;Porter said. &uot;He knew how to get everything out of a player and that’s the secret to coaching.&uot;

Porter attended Kingston Consolidated through the eighth grade.

He was part of the 1948 Natchez High basketball team that won the Big 8.

&uot;I grew up in the country, so I just played baseball,&uot; he said. &uot;When&160;I got to Natchez High, I took physical education under Coach Rex and he asked me to come out for football.&uot;

Porter went both ways in high school and at Co-Lin.

&uot;If they took you out on defense, it was an embarrassment,&uot; he said.

Porter played football, basketball and baseball as a sophomore at Co-Lin, but concentrated solely on football as a sophomore.

But not before being a part of a team that won the state junior college championship in 1949.

&uot;I didn’t start, I was basically sent in to guard the other team’s best player,&uot; Porter said.

Porter chose Co-Lin because other schools were wary of his 5-foot-11, 155-pound frame.

&uot;I talked to Southern and Mississippi State, but they told me I was too small to get a scholarship,&uot; Porter said. &uot;I’ve always been very highly motivated, so I wanted to do well at Co-Lin.&uot;

At Delta State, Porter played end and caught several passes for former Natchez teammate Fred Foster.

&uot;We ran the single wing up until my senior year at Natchez until Fred started playing quarterback and we went to a wing T,&uot; Porter said. &uot;I really enjoyed playing only one position at Delta State and one of my biggest thrills was catching a touchdown pass against Southern (Mississippi).&uot;

After finishing at Delta State, Porter was hired at Gloster High. His first football team went 6-3-1.

Porter coached against Rexinger in basketball and then when Rexinger started his own sporting goods business, Porter became head coach at Natchez High in 1953.

Porter became an administrator in 1961 and was principal of North Natchez in 1969-70.

After serving as an assistant superintendent, he took over the role of superintendent for 11 years.

Two of Porter’s sons, Joey and Ronnie, also won Big 8 championships at Natchez High. Sammy and Lance were also outstanding athletes.

Joey Porter is head coach at Columbia, leading the Wildcats to the Class 3A state championship game last year.

&uot;I enjoy watching their games,&uot; Porter said. &uot;It brings back a lot of memories.&uot;