Linebacker Weston Port feels right at home with San Juan Hills

Sophomore Weston Port of San Juan Hills had 25 tackles for losses as a freshman.
Sophomore Weston Port of San Juan Hills High had 25 tackles for losses as a freshman. (Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Seventh in a series of stories profiling top high school football players by position. Today, Weston Port, San Juan Hills linebacker.

Standing in the middle of the San Juan Hills High football field, you glance up, look around and begin to understand why it’s the perfect name for the public school. The campus is surrounded by rolling hills. College recruiters making the drive to San Juan Capistrano will feel as if they’ve been transported into a unique country setting.

The team’s 15-year-old star football player, 6-foot-2, 220-pound Weston Port, is asked how far he lives from campus.

“Right down the street — five minutes,” he said pointing a finger up and to the right.

Privates schools tried long and hard with offers of free tuition to convince Port to leave his neighborhood school after he became a youth football standout as an eighth-grader.

“I was into it at first,” he said. “Then I realized if I’m good enough, I don’t need to go to private school to be a D1 athlete. I have had friends go the private school route, ‘Dang, all these kids just care about themselves.’ These are my really good friends. It’s hanging out and playing football. It’s a lot more fun and when it's fun, you play better.”

Port burst onto the high school football scene last season as a freshman in his first game against Santa Margarita. He was a week away from his 15th birthday.

As the bus came into the new Saddleback College Stadium, he wondered, “Am I going to get destroyed by these kids?”

“Normally before games, I’m nervous,” he said. “We came out of the tunnel, I had my 'dogs' next to me. I didn’t feel any fear. In that game, I just balled out.”

He recorded two sacks playing as an edge rusher in a 38-14 loss. He’d go on to contribute 91 tackles, including 25 for losses, during the 2021 season.

“As a player, he’s one of the best I’ve ever seen and he’s only a freshman,” coach Robert Frith said last spring. “When I watch his film, I don’t know if I’ve coached a player as dominant. We knew right away he was going to be a guy and start from the day he showed. We made him a captain as a freshman.”

Port moved to the area at 7 when his family arrived from Texas. When looking for a high school, the family had a plan.

“Him and his dad told me he wanted to come to a program that is run like a family and not a business,” Frith said.

Now that Port has everyone’s attention, he understands resting on freshman laurels won’t be enough to pursue his dreams and aspirations. He has earned tremendous respect by the way he treats others, his focus on good grades, character and courtesy. It’s just a matter of continuing his progress physically.

“I don’t want to reflect on my freshman year, ‘Oh that was great.’ I want to be able to get better,” he said. “If I keep growing and keep building, it’s going to be a lot of fun destroying kids.”

Linebackers to watch

Name, School, Ht., Wt., Yr., Comment

Owen Chambliss, Corona Centennial, 6-2, 205, Sr. Fits the profile of big-time hitter

Isaiah Chisom, Chaminade, 6-2, 225, Sr. A disruptor on defense

Reid Farrell, Valencia, 6-0, 190, Jr. Defensive player of the year in Foothill League

Dylan Hampsten, Oaks Christian, 6-4, 210, Sr. Edge rusher was standout at Saugus

Weston Port, San Juan Hills, 6-2, 220, So. 12 sacks as a freshman playing defensive end

EJ Smith, Warren, 6-0, 230, Sr. Two-time league defensive MVP

Leviticus Su’a, Mater Dei, 6-2, 225, Sr. Knows how to tackle with great fundamentals

Jordan Whitney, Oxnard Pacifica, 6-2, 205, Sr. He's been a four-year standout

Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa, St. John Bosco, 6-2, 210, Jr. Back from knee injury with a vengeance

Dylan Williams, Long Beach Poly, 6-2, 190, Jr. The next great Poly linebacker

Tomorrow: Maliki Crawford, Oxnard Pacifica defensive back.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.