Athlete of the Week (Oct. 23-27): Malik Stanback

ROCKINGHAM — Malik Stanback has been named the Daily Journal’s Athlete of the Week for the week of Monday, Oct. 23.

Stanback is a junior wide receiver for the Richmond football team who finished with five receptions for 186 yards and a touchdown in the Raiders’ 25-19 victory over Seventy-First on Friday. His fifth catch, which he took 86 yards to the end zone, was the game-winning score in what was the team’s most exciting matchup this season.

Prior to that, he hauled in a 10-yard pass after setting up his defender with a quick comeback route.

“You can’t say enough about how big those plays were on Friday,” head football coach Bryan Till said. “We had a couple of guys on defense, in Tony McRae and Delon Wall, who played well enough to make it tough (for me) to choose Malik. But those last two plays being as big as they were, I couldn’t have chose anybody else.”

Stanback is the team’s leading receiver this season with 27 receptions, 597 receiving yards and four touchdowns in nine games played. Last week’s 86-yarder is his longest score of the season, but the junior wideout also has touchdowns of 72 yards (vs. Wake Forest) and 66 yards (vs. Purnell Swett).

“I just had to work harder. Some days, after practice, me and the boys will stay after and run routes,” Stanback said. “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to make it out of Richmond County. I do it for my family, my team and my coaches.”

With senior Jaleen Baldwin and junior Bobby Terry — who was named all-conference last season — missing a number of games this year due to injuries, Stanback has embraced his role as freshman quarterback Caleb Hood’s No. 1 target.

“Me and Caleb go way back, we used to play AAU together,” Stanback added. “When we stay after, he’ll work and throw the ball to us. He’s a good quarterback who has a good future ahead of him.”

Because of his late touchdown against Seventy-First — and Jack Britt’s loss to Pinecrest — the Raiders are now second place in the Sandhills Athletic Conference standings and have a chance at the conference championship.

They will travel to Scotland this Friday for one of the biggest rivalry games in state history. The Scots have won the last six meetings but Stanback believes that will change soon, only using two words to describe the team’s mentality.

“We’re ready,” Stanback said.

Below are Stanback’s answers to three of the questions presented by the Daily Journal:

Q: Who’s your favorite athlete? Why?

A: My favorite player is Dante Miller because he pushes you. If you’re down, he’ll tell you to pick your head up because you’ve got another play ahead of you. He’s just a great teammate — like a brother to me. I love him to death.

Q: What’s your favorite movie?

A: I’d say The Land Before Time. It’s an old cartoon movie, but I used to watch it a lot with my mom.

Q: Who’s your biggest influence?

A: It would be my mom. She comes to every game, gets me what I need for football, helps me out and picks me up when I need it. She’s just always there for me.