Malik Brooks is one of the fastest athletes in the state.
The Lockport Lion proved that last spring when he placed fourth in the 400-meter dash at the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association meet after winning the Section VI title.
But the senior is more than just scary fast. He’s crazy athletic, tough and knows how to get open on the football field. Those are very good attributes for a wide receiver. Those skills are the reason the 6-foot-2, 186-pound Brooks is making a serious run at grabbing one of Western New York’s hallowed records.
With three games left in Lockport’s season, beginning with tonight’s rivalry clash at Starpoint, Brooks has caught 30 passes for 867 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s also rushed four times for 86 yards and a TD.
Those are all-star-type-receiving numbers. They’re even better when one considers that Brooks heads into every game with opponents knowing he’s not just the young Lions’ top receiving threat but also their best offensive weapon.
Brooks’ receiving yardage bears tracking down the final stretch. The Western New York single-season record is 1,182 — a mark set by ex-Grand Island star Alex Neutz in 2008.
“He’s a talent,” Orchard Park coach Craig Dana said of Brooks. “There’s not many kids who can play 1-on-1 against him. He’s tall. He’s the fastest man on the field. He’s very dangerous. His coaches are doing a really creative job of getting him the ball. He’s a one-man show.”
Brooks put up modest numbers as a sophomore with the Lions, but good things were expected from him his final two seasons. However, Brooks missed his junior season after suffering a broken leg before the start of the season.
His junior year wasn’t a total wash athletically. The three-sport star returned in time for basketball season – earning first-team all-league. He then ran like the wind during track and field season. His best times in the sprint events are as follows: 10.8 seconds in the 100 meters, 21.9 in the 200 and 49.00 in the 400.
His success in track gave him loads of confidence heading into the current football season. He knew his leg not only was strong but strong enough for him to compete at a high level.
“I knew I would be fine because track season I was fine and making it to states,” said Brooks.
Brooks appears to be playing catch-up on the recruiting trail as a result of missing last season. But he has started to receive some interest from mid-majors and Football Championship Subdivision programs.
He wants to play football in college but also is receiving interest in track. It's good having options.
Though Lockport brings a 1-5 mark into its game against nearby Starpoint (5-1), Brooks has had memorable games. He caught six passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for a 64-yard score in a loss to Orchard Park. In a win over Niagara Falls, he caught three touchdowns and finished with 187 yards receiving. Last week against Williamsville North, he caught six balls for 100 yards but on defense only yielded one reception for minus-1 yard.
"Knowing I didn't play last year and proving this year what I am capable of," Brooks said, "it's a good way to go out my senior year."
Friday’s key games – Rivalry Week division
North Tonawanda (1-5) at Tonawanda (2-4), 6 p.m. It’s time for T-NT. In a rivalry that dates back to 1904, North Tonawanda has won 17 straight versus the Warriors and leads all-time series 67-31-9.
West Seneca West Indians (6-0) at West Seneca East Trojans (6-0), 7 p.m. This qualifies for game-of-the-year status (at least, up to this point), as it pits the News’ top-two ranked large schools against each other, with unbeaten No. 1 West carrying a 21-game unbeaten streak into the showdown. Like WSW, No. 2 West Seneca East has already clinched its respective division title. Since this is a nonleague game, it doesn't impact postseason seeding, which is based off division record. West Seneca West has secured the No. 1 seed for the playoffs in Class A, followed by A-2 Division champion Grand Island and WSW.
Maryvale Flyers (5-1) at Cheektowaga Warriors (5-1), 7 p.m. Once again, these town rivals separated by about two miles meet with the winner earning a higher seed for the Section VI Tournament in Class B, which begins next week. Warriors have won last five meetings between the teams, including an overtime decision in last year’s Section VI Class B final at New Era Field.
Dunkirk vs. Fredonia/Brocton (6-0) at Fredonia (6-0), 7 p.m. The Class B-2 Division title goes to the victor of this rivalry which started back in 1893. Dunkirk leads the all-time series 65-49-11.
Medina Mustangs (3-3) at Albion Purple Eagles (6-0), 7:30 p.m. Only pride is on the line as Albion secured division title and playoff berth with Medina’s loss last week at Lackawanna. In a rivalry that dates back to 1898, Albion leads the all-time series 67-48-5.
Depew Wildcats (1-5) at Lancaster Legends (5-1), 7:30 p.m. Lancaster leads all-time series that dates back to 1919 with a 51-33-6 record. Depew hasn’t beaten Legends since 2014 showdown, at the time the Wildcats’ fourth win over a five-year stretch in the series.
Friday’s key game – Non-rivalry week division
Orchard Park Quakers (5-1, 4-1) at Clarence (3-3, 2-3), 7 p.m. A playoff spot is on the line here. OP wins and it is in the Section VI Tournament. Should Clarence win, it keeps its faint playoff hopes alive in Class AA. Red Devils must win their last two regular season games while OP loses both in order to have a chance at playing in the sectional semifinals.