Wangaratta star Josh Porter has potentially played his last game for the club.
Porter took 10 marks and kicked two goals in the 18.15 (123) to 6.8 (44) thumping of Wangaratta Rovers in front of a healthy crowd of more than 1000.
The league’s best centre half-forward will fly out on Wednesday to start his teaching studies at university in the US.
An emotionally torn Porter is uncertain if he’ll be able to make the 32,000-kilometre round trek for finals.
“If it (the university program) allows me to, yeah, I’d like to come back and explore every avenue,” he said.
“In saying that I’d have to get over there and scope it out if it is possible.
“It’s a little bit bittersweet for me because we’re playing really good footy, had a great first half of the year and we’re building some momentum towards the finals, so hopefully if the program allows me to come back, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”
Porter is so influential with his strong marking and ferocious work ethic, he’s potentially the difference between a grand final berth and early exit.
In short, Wangaratta must finish top three and must win the qualifying final to guarantee a preliminary final.
It’s a little bit bittersweet for me because we’re playing really good footy, had a great first half of the year and we’re building some momentum towards the finals, so hopefully if the program allows me to come back, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
“I couldn’t miss too much time, probably a week and a half would be the most,” Porter said.
If that’s the case, Porter could arrive home on the Friday before the Sunday preliminary final and, if the Pies won, leave the day after the grand final.
Fellow forward Michael Newton cut the deficit in the Doug Strang Medal race by one with eight majors.
His last was a freakish effort, dribbling through from around 40 metres.
Wangaratta dominated the first and final terms, but the pair kicked five goals apiece in the middle stanza.
Newton kicked four in the first quarter and looked certain to kick a double-figure haul, but Michael Clark battled manfully.
Mat Grossman’s drive from half-back was again outstanding, while Ben Douthie provided a cool head.
Nuggety midfielder Matt Kelly was strong, while high-profile recruit Ben Speight starred in the final term.
The Hawks, who have just the two wins, were terrific in the middle stages, gritty and determined.