Two years ago, the Sharks found themselves losing 28-0 to Lake City.
It wasn’t an unusual situation — the Sharks have won just three games over the last two seasons — but this was different.
Led by running back Deondray Stanfield’s five touchdowns, St. James mounted a comeback and won the game. That was during Stanfield’s sophomore year. Sharks coach Tommy Norwood said the senior hasn’t reached his full potential yet.
“Deondray doesn’t know how good of a player he is,” Norwood said. “Deondray is as raw as raw could be. He’s fast. He’s strong. But again, he’s never really had to give that extra push or whatever. That’s what we’ve tried to get him to do, to be consistent every day. … He can be one of the better players around once he realizes that he can be one of the better players around.”
Stanfield came to football late. In elementary school, he thought flag football was too soft. He wanted to hit people. So he never gave football a chance until his eighth grade year.
It took him some time to learn the game and his role in it, but Stanfield is optimistic about his development as well as the growth of the Sharks’ team.
“Our senior class this year brings a lot of intensity to the game,” he said. “I feel like we carry ourselves in a good way to show others that we should fight back as hard as we can and not give up. I feel like that’s where we’ve struggled in the past.”
Despite St. James’ history of football futility, Stanfield said this group has high expectations. His goal is to reach the playoffs this season.
“You can’t find any other team with a better connection than us,” he said. “Our bond is just too strong. We do everything together. It’s a family. It’s not even a team.”
Led by nearly 20 seniors, the Sharks hope to establish a new tradition at the South Strand school.
“There’s a new future for St. James and a new program,” Stanfield said. “We’re trying to build a better foundation.”