Friday 20 Oct 2017

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High School Athlete Of The Week – Rahjai McPhatter

Much like many of his 146 carries this season, Rahjai McPhatter’s football career has taken its own unique path.

McPhatter’s first taste of competitive football came when he was four-years-old, as he attempted to follow in the footsteps of his father and older brother.

“I was four when I first started playing,” McPhatter said. “I really had no choice. My brother played before me. My dad, he was really good at football. I just grew up in a football family.”

Now a senior quarterback at Princeton High School, McPhatter took a two-year hiatus away from the gridiron following his freshman season, as he internally sorted out his own feelings toward the sport.

“It wasn’t really the coaches,” McPhatter said. “I just wasn’t really sure if I loved the game anymore. I focused on playing basketball and that’s where I really spent my time.”

Through consistent encouragement from Bulldogs’ head coach Travis Gaster and McPhatter’s participation in a team-oriented mission trip, McPhatter’s love for football was rekindled.

McPhatter is this week’s WGBR High School Athlete of the Week.

The WGBR High School Athlete of the Week is a partnership between Curtis Media Group, Mt. Olive Pickles, Wayne UNC Health Care, O’Berry and Lewis Insurance and Goldsboro Physical Therapy to recognize local high school athletes who excel athletically, academically and through service to their community.

Each Friday morning through November 17th, a local high school athlete will be recognized on the WGBR morning show as well as in a feature story on goldsborodailynews.com. The recognized athletes are chosen by the athletic department and administration from their respective high schools.

McPhatter accompanied Gaster and the rising seniors on the Bulldogs’ football team on a mission trip to Lumberton to assist victims of Hurricane Matthew. Gaster saw his soon-to-be starting quarterback bond with his future teammates.

“Rahjai has been on our basketball team and I’ve watched him compete,” Gaster said. “I’m finally glad he decided to give football a chance and he’s really improved each and every week. When he went on the mission trip and crawled up under the houses and did all the nasty stuff we were doing, he immediately was one of us. The kids welcomed him with open arms and that was a huge turning point for us.”

McPhatter’s final venture into high school football, his first at the varsity level, has been eventful as he’s rushed for over 1,200 yards with 13 touchdowns. Princeton has gotten off to a 4-2 start and averages 35 points a game.

“Since this is my first year playing varsity football, the weight room really helped me out,” McPhatter said. “My offensive line is what has gotten me all those yards. I just do what I’m taught to do.”

When he’s not busy terrorizing opposing defenses, McPhatter is applying himself in the classroom. He’s enrolled in 13 honors classes during his high school career and he maintains a 3.9 grade point average. McPhatter also participates in Princeton’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Beta clubs. He has also volunteered with Princeton’s Little League Footaball Camp.

“Academics come first,” McPhatter said. “I just have to keep my head on straight to balance all my responsibilities.”

McPhatter has considered attending UNC Wilmington, Duke or N.C. State after high school to pursue a career in the custom built home industry.

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