Michael Stanford, No. 44, is a defensive stopper for GCC Football
The ball is snapped and No. 44 is a blur, fending off blockers until he locates his prey which is anyone in an opposing uniform carrying the ball. Michael Stanford laughed at the analogy but could not dispute the fact that his focus as a linebacker for the GCC Football Team is to hunt, capture and destroy.
It is probably not so life and death as the previous sentence describes but making tackles at the frequency Stanford is this season takes an obvious combination of strength and speed to pursue but the intuitive focus that he brings to each play is what probably sets him apart from other defenders.
"I think this season, all the hard work is paying off for me based on individual performance. I spend five to ten hours a week looking at film and five days a week in the weight room and that combined with practice reps gets me pretty prepared for our games each week,'' said Stanford before a recent practice. "My focus is just to do whatever I can to help the team play well and win."
While winning games has been a challenge for the 1-6 Vaqueros heading into the Saturday Nov. 2 conference matchup at L.A. Valley, the play of Stanford has been nothing less than scintillating
Of the 126 tackles he has attempted in seven games this season, Stanford has been successful on 106 stops for a success rate of 84 percent on tackles made. He has recorded 58 assisted tackles, 48 solo stops and an amazing 10.5 tackles for a loss. He is averaging over 15 tackles a game and is closing in on several school single season defensive records if he maintains his current pace.
Out of Saugus High School, Stanford decided to attend GCC on a whim at the suggestion of quarterback Nathan Eldridge and the leap of faith to play for the Vaqueros has worked out better than he could have expected. He is majoring in kinesiology and has a 3.4 grade point average and hopes to follow in the footsteps of the trainers he admires at Glendale, Jose Gomez and Claudia Orejuela, and to work in athletics in the future when his playing days are over.
"I think Michael has the opportunity to play at the next level if he chooses because he possesses much of the skill set that coaches are looking for'' said GCC Head Football Coach John Rome. "He is a hard worker, studies to improve himself off the field and leads by example. He is a real pleasure to coach''