By JOSH FRYE
News Staff Writer
In the world of high school football, the time must always come for a player to hang up his jersey and retire to the next chapter of life.
For Escambia Academy senior Patrick McGhee, that time is near.
McGhee has had an outstanding season and career as a Cougar. The running back set an unofficial school record this season with 38 touchdowns and 2,256 rushing yards, and he averaged 11.5 yards carrying. McGhee had an impressive 16 runs that stretched over 60 yards.
“Pat has done an outstanding job representing the school,” EA headmaster and head football coach Hugh Fountain said. “Our team is focused around brotherhood and Pat sticks really close to that concept. He has been an outstanding role model and mentor for our school and he is a humble person despite his talent,”
McGhee had the opportunity to be a part of several state championship games and helped lead the Cougars to the 2017 state championship. He also won the All-Saban award in 2016 and 2017 during the Nick Saban Camp, has been chosen as a member of the 2018 Alabama Sports Writer Association All-State team, played in the AISA All-Star game and won MVP honors in the National Athletic Association of Private Schools (NAAPS) All-American football game earlier this month in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
“I wasn’t expecting to win the MVP honors during the NAAPS All-Star game as the top offensive player of the game,” McGhee said. “There were so many great players from all over the nation and it was a humbling experience and honor. The preparations and game really helped me prepare for next level football. Quarters were fifteen minutes long and I was made to change my running style from a high school running style to more of a college running style. It really helped me to prepare for what I may experience at the next level.”
McGhee has been a member of the Cougar family since his ninth-grade year when he made the transition to Escambia Academy.
“This school is more like a family than anything else,” he said. “I have had overwhelming support from the staff and students. I am proud to be a member of this family and team and I want to represent the school in the right way.
“Coach Fountain is more than a coach. He is a father figure to me and that is the way I like to look at him. He has helped me in any way that I need and I can call him any time. He is great man. He has done more than teach me the game of football. He has taught me how to be a man and a great person on and off the field.”
The game of football forces players to develop confidence and character and McGhee has had a tremendous opportunity to develop those traits while playing for the Cougars.
“The team to me is a family, and brotherhood is stressed here,” he said. “The biggest change in transitioning to college is going to be losing a lot of the brotherhood feeling. Escambia Academy, my teammates and coaches are very important to me.”
McGhee has been looking at several colleges to take the next step in his football and academic career.
Those among his list of prospective colleges include the University of South Alabama, Alcorn State University, Jacksonville State and others.
“I have had the opportunity to be surrounded by nurses for most of my life and my career goal is to become a rehabilitation nurse,” McGhee said. “I want to be able to represent this area and my school and help create a name for Escambia Academy. I am going to miss my family here and the best advice I can give my teammates who will remain is to always stay humble. I have never seen myself as the best player. I have always seen the areas that I need to improve and have always kept a level head. No matter how hard something may seem, never give up.”