Mohammad Alkhateeb’s second home is the Blue Springs High School weight room.
The undersized 5-foot-10, 240-pound defensive end puts on a clinic every time he pounds the weights.
That is one big reason he plays a key role on a line that has simply shut down the most potent postseason opponents in the state of Missouri.
“Mohammad is 5-10, 240, but he plays like he’s 6-2, 280,” said an appreciative coach Kelly Donohoe, whose 11-2 Wildcats meet Kirkwood in the Class 6 Show-Me Bowl state championship game at 7 p.m. Friday at the University of Missouri’s Faurot Field in Columbia (the game will be broadcast locally by Real Country 1030 AM KCWJ).
“Mohammad is one of the kids who make coaching so special, so much fun. He’s a warrior – and by that, I mean a warrior! His motor is always running.
“If I went up to him this afternoon and said we’re going full pads from 3 to 9 p.m., he’d say, ‘OK, Coach, let’s go get ‘em.’ I love the kid and his teammates love him too.
“But more importantly, they respect him. We watch film after every game, and there has never been a play where Mo wasn’t going 110 percent. And that’s infectious. Once you start watching him out on the field, you can’t take your eyes off him.”
Alkhateeb is usually one of the first Wildcats to arrive on the practice field, and always the last to leave.
“You know,” chuckles Donohoe, “the only way we can get him out of the weight room is turning off the lights and locking the door. Those are the type of players who help you win state championships.”
When asked about the Wildcats’ weight room, a broad smile appears on Alkhateeb’s face.
“I love that room, man, I love it,” he said. “The weight room is my friend. I would spend all my time in there if I could. But you know what makes it even more special for me? I’m never in there alone. All my brothers from the football team are in there with me.
“They’re working right alongside me, working to get better, working to get stronger, working to help this team win a state championship. It’s not just me ...”
He pauses for a moment, and adds, “But I don’t know if anyone loves it as much as I do. There are times my body is screaming at me to quit, but I never do. I just keep working.”
And that type of dedication and work ethic has helped Alkhateeb enjoy a special season. He leads the Cats with six sacks and has 50 tackles – a surprising total for an interior defensive lineman. As a reward, the Suburban Big Seven coaches voted him first-team all-conference.
“And he’s so active, when he doesn’t make the tackle, he’s making things happen out on the field,” Donohoe added. “When you work as hard as he does and you’re as strong as he is, you’re going to make things happen.”
Quarterback Dylan Cowling, who moved from starting linebacker to quarterback when starter Chase Donohoe broke his foot near the end of the regular season, marvels at the play of Alkhateeb.
“I’m glad he’s on my side and I don’t have to worry about him coming after me,” Cowling said. “Mo works so hard, and this game means so much to him. He’s a special player and a special teammate – but you know, all my teammates are special. We’re a band of brothers.”
Alkhateeb always seems to be in the middle of anything happening on the field or in the weight room, where he has bench pressed 225 pounds 27 times.
“I actually did 30, but needed some spotting help on the last three, so I just say I did 27,” Alkhateeb said. “And that hard work has paid off.”
He even gets an occasional snap on the offensive side of the ball in the Wildcats’ jumbo backfield package that also includes massive fullback Caleb Marquez.
“Oh man, I love to block for my man Caleb,” Alkhateeb said. “I get to hit someone playing defense, and that’s so much fun. As long as I’m out there hitting someone, I’m happy. I am so blessed to be a part of this team.
“We’re all brothers, brothers with one goal – winning state this Friday in Columbia.”