After having to sit out his freshman year due to injury, junior Race Stopp started making his presence known last year for the Tahlequah Tigers. Primarily a wide receiver, Race had 40 receptions for 485 yards and five touchdowns last season including a game against Collinsville where he caught eight passes for 100 yards.
“Race started for us last year, but it took him a while to get to know and be comfortable in our system,” said head coach Brad Gilbert. “But once that happened, he made some things happen. He’s very competitive and a guy we want to get the ball to when we need a big play. He played some cornerback in a relief role last year and will probably see more action there this year.”
Race, who also plays basketball and baseball for the Tigers, says he likes football best, particularly offense.
“I think I just like the thrill of Friday night lights and the competition of football better. I like offense because you get to touch the ball and make things happen,” said Stopp.
As he has grown up, Race has been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and former Oklahoma Sooner wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.
“I like his athleticism and his route running and he’s got great hands and reach.” Players who want to get better always need someone to give them a push and for Race Stopp that push comes from the top.
“Coach Gilbert is probably the person who motivates me the most. You always know that he wants you to be the best guy you can be and he’s like a second dad for you in our program and someone you can respect.”
Though he’s only played for a year, he’s already got a favorite moment for his mental scrapbook.
“I think a highlight for me was beating Sapulpa this past year because there was some bad blood between us after they beat us two years ago, so it was sweet to beat them this year.”
Like the rest of the Tigers, Stopp knows that Tahlequah’s move to Class 6A-II this year will be a challenge but he’s looking forward to it.
“It will be a little tough because we won’t have those easier games against some of the Tulsa teams that we’ve had before, and every game will be a fight.”
Race says his goal for this year is to get 1000 yards receiving.