Athlete of the Week: Grate returns to lead SJ to No. 1

sjsoc-celebrateSt. James High soccer standout Quadarius Grate is happy to be back for his senior season, and the No. 1-ranked Sharks are obviously glad to have their star striker back.

Since returning to the team following a junior season spent playing for an academy club in Columbia, Grate has helped his team get off to a 10-0-1 start and earn the No. 1 ranking in Class 3A. It’s one of many reasons he was named the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week after scoring hat tricks on two different occasions this season.

“It’s good to be back and playing with your teammates and in front of all your classmates,” Grate said. “I took off my junior year to play academy and it was a great experience, but it’s fun being a part of what we’re doing this season. Most of us have played together for a long time at Coast FA so it really isn’t much of an adjustment.”

The Sharks shocked everyone at the season-opening Michael Nash Memorial Tournament by shutting out all four foes en route to the title, but the big one came with a 1-0 win over region rival Myrtle Beach. Just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, St. James defeated the Seahawks 4-3 last Tuesday in a match Grate considers the highlight of the season so far.

“We were down 3-2 late in regulation and Keaton (Zimmer) scored to send it to overtime, then were just a few minutes before going to a shootout and Andres (Celis) made a perfect cross to me (for the game-winner),” Grate recalled. “It was a great feeling because we showed we could win under pressure and the fans in the stands went wild.”

Grate is hoping for more magical moments this season before he heads off to play at the next level. His academy play earned him a scholarship to play at Coker College so he can enjoy his senior season knowing his future is secure. Now he can focus on his current goal – to lead the Sharks to the Class 3A state championship.

“I think we have a good chance but we can’t get too comfortable,” Grate said. “Now that we have a No. 1 ranking, we’re going to have a target on our backs so we have to play our best every time out. But I think if our defense keeps playing well, we can score enough goals to beat anybody.”

Photo by Rancier Photography

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