Uniondale's William Stanback had a high school career to remember.
The University of Central Florida-bound running back had several awe-inspiring performances, finished his career as Uniondale's all-time leading rusher and helped the Knights to two straight playoff appearances.
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But Stanback, a Newsday second-team all-Long Island selection who will participate in the 18th Annual United Health Care Empire Challenge football game between Long Island and New York City high school seniors tomorrow night at Hofstra, realizes his work has barely begun.
"To actually participate in this game means a lot to me, because I've been looking forward to playing in it since the ninth grade," Stanback said. "I've seen all of these great players come through, have great senior years and get the opportunity to showcase their talents in such a huge game . . . This game will be a steppingstone for me."
Stanback won't have more than a few hours after the game to celebrate if Long Island wins, though. He's expected to be on Central Florida's campus early Wednesday afternoon, ready to work.
"My flight for Florida leaves at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday," he said. "They don't have a problem with me playing in this game, as long as I don't get banged up and am ready to go when I get down there."
As for how he expects to perform tomorrow night, Stanback doesn't have to look too far back to find his motivation to succeed. Green Bay Packers tight end and Uniondale graduate Andrew Quarless has set a new standard at the school, according to Stanback.
"Those are really big shoes to fill," Stanback said of Quarless. "I hope to use this game to keep the tradition of great football players at Uniondale going."
Another source of motivation for Stanback was the play of University of Massachusetts running back and Floyd graduate Stacey Bedell, who ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns in Long Island's 31-7 win over New York City last year.
"He was great in that game," Stanback said. "That's the type of performance I'd like to put on in my last high school game on Long Island."
Stanback has been spreading the word for several weeks that he is playing and expects an abundance of support.
"I'm hoping about 400 people come," he said. "I told the whole school it will be my last game in New York. I need everybody to support me."