Athlete of Week: Stanfield makes nice football move

 

St. James High sophomore running back Deondray Stanfield was only a first-grader when he chose basketball over football. The resurgent Sharks football program and its fans are happy he reconsidered.

The two-sport standout has recently made an impressive transition from the hardwood to the gridiron, and Stanfield has had a big hand in helping turn the struggling St. James football program around from a frustrating 0-10 campaign last season. Fueled by Stanfield’s hard-running style, the Sharks are off to a 2-3 start and showing signs of rounding the corner under first-year coach Joey Price.

“I played football for the first time when I was 6, but basketball got my heart and I didn’t play again until eighth grade when my middle school coach talked me into it,” recalled Stanfield, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week following his strong string of performances. “I still love to play basketball, but football is really starting to take over. It just seems to come to me naturally.”

Those who have seen Stanfield carry the ball can testify to that fact, especially the St. James faithful who made the long drive to Lake City on Sept. 9. Trailing 28-0 right out of the gate, the Sharks drew some inspiration from Price at halftime, and they got an inspired five-touchdown effort from Stanfield and the offensive line to complete an amazing 42-34 comeback victory.

“It wasn’t going good at first, the O-line wasn’t making their blocks and we couldn’t get anything going,” Stanfield said. “Coach had a talk with the line and told them it was time to get down and dirty. They started blocking and opening up holes for me and I just did my job. We had a lot of fans there and they were chanting ’38! 38!’ but it was about the whole team and what we can do when everybody does their job. … When we came to school on Monday everybody was excited about the football team.”

St. James fans know No. 38 by name now after his 187-yard, five-TD performance. But just as he and the Sharks were riding high from the win, they had the tables turned on them last week in Georgetown’s 26-23 comeback win. Stanfield had a pair of fumbles that proved costly in the contest, but he owns up to his mistakes as much as his successes and sticks by his team-first philosophy.

“Coach told us not to get comfortable, and to remember what happened the week before at Lake City because it could happen to us,” said Stanfield, who also rushed for 128 yards and one touchdown. “It’s partly my fault because I had two fumbles, but like Coach tells us, we win as a team and we lose as a team. He has done a great job of bringing us together as a family.”

The Sharks will need that cohesiveness this week when they face rival Socastee (3-1), then it’s time for the second season and Region 7-4A play. St. James competes in a tough region with power programs Marlboro County, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach. But the Sharks are not backing down from the challenge and they have their sights set on a playoff berth as a team goal.

“I feel like the program has been made new, like we have a fresh slate and we get to start over,” Stanfield said. “Last year was really hard because no one came to the games to support the team. Now we’re starting to get fans in the stands and it’s great for us to see our hard work paying off. We definitely want to get to the playoffs and build this program to what it can be.”

Photo by Prep Stars Media

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