By: John Raffel
Meridian return specialist enjoys special season
It was a game Meridian's Kyle Stockford will remember for a long time.
Stockford returned two interceptions for touchdowns and a kickoff for a TD, and the Mustangs pulled away in the middle two quarters in a game during the regular season for a 48-24 win over host Houghton Lake in Jack Pine Conference football.
Coach Michael Bilina’s team was 4-5 but players like Stockford presented plenty of memorable highlights.
Stockford was a senior who was a utility type of player who performed at running back/ receiver, defensive back and safety and also returned kicks and punts.
He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns the final weekend of the regular season.
On the ground, he rushed for 47 times and 412 yards for 8.8 yards per carry and four touchdowns. He also threw three passes for 102 yards. Stockford caught 10 passes for 278 yards and three scores. He had 13 total touchdowns. Defensively he had 20 solo tackles and four assists. He has three interceptions and recovered three fumbles. He had 10 kickoff returns for 451 yards and four touchdowns with 45.1 yards per return. He had a punt return for a TD but it was called back on a holding penalty away from the play.
“He’s a pretty special athlete,” Bilina said. “He’s as fast as hell. He gets in the open field and his speed is really fast. The kids do a good job of blocking.”
He was on varsity three years and this statistically was his best, Bilina said.
“What was a bummer for him is he missed the first three games of the season with a high ankle sprain,” Blina said. ‘The stats he got are remarkable considering it’s from six games.”