Raphael Griffin has trained during the summer to ensure that his senior year of football will be his best.
"He really pushed himself over the summer," said Rick Knight, Midland Valley High School's head football coach. "He went to summer camps and worked on improving his speed and his strength."
Griffin, who plays wide receiver on offense and free safety on defense, wants to make a mark with the Mustangs' football team before he graduates.
"I want to have 800 receiving yards and at least 90 tackles on defense," he said.
"I don't see the sidelines some games," he said.
Football has been part of Griffin's life since elementary school. "I moved from New York and starting playing in the fifth grade," he said.
In his Pop Warner days, he played running back and tackle, shifting to his current positions in high school.
"He's really come up to his game in the last year or so," said Knight. "His whole attitude has changed. He really wants to have a future in the sport."
Football isn't the only game for Griffin. He also plays basketball and runs track.
"He's a workaholic," Knight said.
Last year, Griffin lettered in all three sports.
In basketball, he said, "I like the defense because I can keep them from scoring."
In track, he ran the 400-meter race, was part of the 4-by-400-meter and 4-by-100-meter relay teams and participated in the long and high jumps.
"I made it to the state qualifier in the 4-by-100, and we finished fifth," he said.
It was his first year on the track team. He had played baseball in previous years, but he wanted to try a different sport.
Griffin credits athletics with giving him discipline and focus in life.
"If I didn't have sports, I don't think I'd be in the 12th grade," he said. His mother requires that he keep his grades up in order to play.
Griffin hopes his hard work in athletics will pay off in a college scholarship, although he doesn't have his eye on any particular school.
"Whatever comes my way," he said.
A member of Future Business Leaders of America, Griffin plans to pursue a business degree.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.