Chico McClatcher is the Swiss Army Knife in the Federal Way High School football arsenal.
Compact, but deadly.
His razor-sharp cuts carve through defenses for touchdown after touchdown.
He can hurt you with a slashing run or reception, or a pin-point pass. It might be a big punt or kick return, or a game-changing interception — or all of the above.
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“He’s like the utility tool in your toolbox,” teammate Keenan Curran said. “You could use him for anything.”
And the eighth-ranked Eagles (10-2) plan to do just that Saturday at noon when they face No. 5 Chiawana (11-1) of Pasco in the Class 4A state semifinals at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco.
Robert Chico McClatcher IV, a 5-foot-8, 175-pound junior running back, goes into the game with more than 3,000 all-purpose yards and 32 touchdowns. Over the past three seasons, he has scored nearly every way imaginable — completing the list with an 89-yard fumble return this fall.
Federal Way coach John Meagher compares him to Reggie Bush, and the former USC All-American now playing in the NFL happens to be McClatcher’s favorite player and the reason he wears No. 5.
“He’s so versatile, he’s got great hands and he’s so elusive,” Meagher said. “It’s not necessarily how fast he is — although he is fast — it’s how fast he gets to fast, He is at his full speed within a couple of steps, and that’s what separates him from the rest.”
McClatcher has an athletic bloodline. His father was a standout basketball player at Foss High School in Tacoma. His mother, Kam Warner, enjoyed a storied track career at Washington as a hurdler and long jumper and played professional women’s football until retiring last year.
Warner, a parole officer and single mom, said her son always wanted to be outside playing growing up and his speed was apparent at a young age. He was just 4 when she decided to play professional football, a sport she grew up around. With no child care, he had to tag along.
McClatcher quickly got hooked, and by age 10 he was waterboy, tee retriever, chain-gang member and scout-team substitute — already a jack-of-all-trades.
His first real action, in a pee-wee game with the Federal Way Hawks, was memorable: four carries, four touchdowns.
McClatcher went to camp with the high school team the summer before his ninth-grade year. Meagher and his coaching staff were impressed.
“He stood out in terms of his speed and his quickness, but he was so little,” Meagher recalls.
And the coach had a no-freshmen-on-varsity rule. Ultimately, though, McClatcher forced him to break it, at first on special teams and then at tailback. In the seventh game of the season, he rushed for 172 yards on 14 carries, including a 66-yard touchdown.
“The rest is history,” Meagher said.
As a sophomore, the scholarship offers started rolling in — from Portland State and then Washington — and the list is up to nine now. McClatcher doesn’t plan to make any early commitments.
“I want to take all my visits,” he said.
Each year, McClatcher has gotten a little bigger, a little stronger and even a little faster. He’s running through arm tackles and rarely gets caught from behind.
Of all his many roles, McClatcher said he enjoys simply running and catching the football the most.
“Just having the ball in my hands just makes me want to score every time I touch it,” he said.
The Eagles surprised a lot of people with their first-round win over Skyline of Sammamish, the two-time defending 4A champion, but Federal Way players and coaches were quick to say it was no upset. They know there are doubters, but they believe they can contend for the school’s first football title.
“We’re thinking to win it all,” McClatcher said. “People didn’t think we’d get this far and we just want to prove those people wrong and say our team has heart.”
And a very special weapon.
Sandy Ringer: 206-718-1512 or firstname.lastname@example.org