About 15 miles north of where you’d start to enter the glut of San Diego on Interstate 15 is Mt. Carmel High School.
In the not-too-distant past, the MCHS Sundevils reached the CIF championship game in California led by players like Lucas Johnson, who is now in a battle to start at quarterback for Georgia Tech.
The Sundevils also had Rashid Shaheed, who played running back, slot receiver, wide receiver, cornerback, safety — “Just a versatile, great player and even a better person,” said John Anderson, his high school head coach.
If you can believe it, Shaheed returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown in that CIF title game.
“That almost turned the tide for us,” Anderson said.
Saturday, it’s there where, at San Diego County Credit Union Stadium just miles south of his high school, Shaheed returns to his hometown as his Weber State Wildcats face San Diego State. On his 21st birthday, no less.
“I’m very excited,” Shaheed said. “Not many kids get to go home and play their home team. I have a lot of guys on the other side of the ball. I’m excited to compete with them, they’re excited to go against me. It’s going to be some fun.”
Shaheed, now a junior receiver at WSU, is the program’s record holder in career kickoff returns for touchdowns (four) and 100-yard touchdown returns (two). He broke out as a freshman with games of 149 receiving yards (at Cal) and 163 (against UC Davis).
He wasn’t recruited to SDSU, he says.
“I’m definitely going to have a chip on my shoulder. It’s my hometown, I wasn’t recruited there. So coming to Weber State and having an opportunity to play them, I’m definitely going to come in with a little edge,” Shaheed said.
Shaheed should have a healthy fan club at the stadium as family and friends plan to support him in his hometown.
“All my family has supported me through everything. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am right now,” he said. “They don’t get a lot of opportunities to come out here and watch me play, so going back and playing in front of them is going to mean a lot to them and to me. I’m excited to put on a show for them.”
Kick returns are part of the show when it comes to Shaheed — if he ever gets the chance. Most teams kick away from the deep threat.
“You can’t go in thinking ‘I’m not going to get this ball.’ Whenever I get my opportunities, I try to make the most of it,” Shaheed said. “I know if it comes to me, my guys are going to block for me and that’s why we’ve been so good over the years. We’ve got 10 other guys, they put it all out there, fly around and we make plays ... Confidence comes from my other guys who block for me. I know they’re going to put in a lot of effort into making the play happen when I get the ball.”
Anderson said it was a proud moment last year to turn on national TV and see Shaheed in a quarterfinal playoff game. He indicated everything good coming Shaheed’s way is deserved.
“I’m just super proud for him, that all his hard work in the classroom and on the field is paying off,” Anderson said. “He’s such a humble kid, and I can still see that he hasn’t changed.
“He’s one of those talents who some things he does, you can’t coach. But he puts the effort in the weight room and at practice to bring out the most of his talent.”