Peninsula High School’s Ben Stanford did a little bit of everything in the 2018-19 school year.
A two-sport athlete who is also who is on the ASB and is in two separate choirs, he decided to add to his football responsibilities by playing corner back for the first time in his high school career.
Stanford, who limited himself to kicking while he was playing club soccer, decided to step away from club soccer his senior year. That freed him up to play corner, which he had not played since middle school.
“It was different than the past couple years, than what I was used to,” Stanford said. “It was more fun. It added more intensity to the game. I felt more involved in the game and it got more emotional, too. You’re sweating and working out there with the other guys.”
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Already one of the top kickers in the South Sound Conference — he was also named to the Tacoma News Tribune’s 2017 All-Area second team — he wound up starting the Seahawks' three playoff games at corner. Stanford was also a four-year varsity presence for the Seahawks soccer team and was named an all-league midfielder this spring.
That's why Stanford was selected the Peninsula Gateway’s male athlete of the year for Peninsula High School.
“He’s just a great kid,” said Peninsula soccer coach Brad Scandrett. “He’s that kid that you hope to have on your team. He listens, he’s respectful, and he works really hard. … This year, the leadership has been big, on and off the field. The guys respect him.”
During the football season, coach Ross Filkins called Stanford “phenomenal” and “a tremendous asset.” At the high school level, having a reliable kicker with a good leg is often a luxury. Stanford made five out of his six field goal attemps on the season and 36 of his 38 extra point attempts.
“We practiced (kicking field goals) every day,” Stanford said. “That’s just what we did. That really helped. In games, we felt confident that it was going to go through the uprights.”
Stanford appreciating being able to contribute the football team as a cornerback this year, also.
“It was really rewarding,” he said. “I felt like more of a leader, more of a player the underclassmen could look up to. Just showing them that you don’t have to be just a kicker, there’s multiple ways you can contribute.”
Perhaps what Stanford is most proud of is his work on the soccer field, where was a four-year varsity player and a three-year starter. He helped turn the Peninsula program around, highlighted by a league title in the 2017 spring season, topping Central Kitsap and crosstown rival Gig Harbor.
“We take a lot of pride in that,” Stanford said. “Coach Brad would always tell us that we’re going to turn this program into something people notice. Not a lot of people paid attention to us. We’re moving in the right way, building that program. It’s a dominant program in the area now. That was our goal, and I think we did pretty well.”
Stanford, who was a “box-to-box” midfielder for Peninsula, with plenty of freedom to roam, earned the praise of Scandrett over the course of his career.
“If we don’t have Ben, we’re hurting,” Scandrett told the Gateway in May. “We have a couple other guys who can step in but they’re not the same. They don’t bring the same fire and athletic ability, don’t distribute the same.”
Stanford carries a 3.85 cumulative grade point average and will be attending Boise State University in the fall.
“He’s a student first,” Filkins said. “He’s an excellent student and does a great job of modeling in the classroom. Athletically, he’s performing at a high level, competing and doing so in a way that demonstrates great sportsmanship.”
Stanford is toying with the idea of playing for the BSU club soccer team next season. While his competitive sports career is winding down, Stanford is taking plenty of life skills with him to college.
“Just my leadership skills, my ability to prioritize my time, what I want to do and taking the right steps to accomplish my goals,” Stanford said.