Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
Sitting in his coach’s car and sipping on hot soup, Kettering High’s Rapheal Sanders was nursing a bad cold last Friday. But the junior wide receiver still had the urge to do whatever he could to help his ailing football team.
“Seeing my team struggling, I wanted to get out there and play,’’ said Sanders, the Detroit Public School League’s Proud Strong Learner of the Week. “I had to beg my coach to let me go out there. He finally told me I could.”
With Kettering trailing 12-6 at halftime and his body racked with chills, Sanders turned the chills into thrills by scoring two second-half touchdowns and lifting the Pioneers to a 20-12 victory against previously unbeaten Southwestern.
“It was really remarkable and showed a lot of heart for him to help his team like that,’’ Kettering coach Duane Travis said. “He was sick as a dog in the first half, but he felt he could help us and he really came through.”
Sanders came to the rescue in a big way, taking a 29-yard TD pass from quarterback Ralph Gibson and sealing the deal with a 99-yard TD on a slant pass that he ran most of the way.
“I’ve only got 14 players, so we needed somebody to step up for us,” Travis said. “That’s the kind of kid Rapheal is. He works hard and he listens to his coaches. He just wants to play hard for Kettering.”
The roster lists Sanders as 5-9, 160 pounds. That’s a stretch. But his contribution as a third-year varsity player at wide receiver and cornerback needs no exaggeration. Last year, he scored nine touchdowns and had six interceptions. This season, he’s scored five TDs with four picks.
“This award has really boosted my confidence,’’ Sanders said. “Hopefully, we can keep this going and win the city championship. We’re already turning a lot of heads.”