By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
MOSES LAKE — It’s been a banner week for Mason Stone.
Last Wednesday, the senior safety and star on the Mountlake Terrace football team for three seasons graduated from high school. The next day he signed an NCAA National Letter of Intent to play football at the University of Idaho. Today, he is in Moses Lake along with many of the best high school football players in Washington preparing for the 49th annual East-West All-State football game.
The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Lions Field.
It’s the first time the game has been held in Moses Lake, and just its fourth location ever. It has been held in Spokane three times, once in the Tri-Cities and the rest have been played at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Stone joins 15 other locals playing in the game, as well as Lake Stevens head coach Tom Tri, who will lead the West squad.
Stone began his high school football career at Archbishop Murphy, but something didn’t feel right.
“I grew up in public school pretty much my whole life,” Stone said. “It was just a stretch. I worked hard and everything, but I just thought I would be able to excel more at a public school because it was just the speed I had grown up with and been used to.”
He didn’t see much playing time with the Wildcats, breaking his leg in an early-season game. Rather than stick it out in a place where he wasn’t happy, Stone opted for a new beginning, and transferred to Mountlake Terrace.
Terrace head coach Tony Umayum was happy to welcome Stone, who jumped into the Hawks’ starting lineup in the defensive backfield as a sophomore and made the All-Wesco team on his way to becoming the school’s all-time leader in interceptions.
“Mason is probably as impactful of a young transfer as you’re going to get,” Umayum said. “It was a pretty nice boost to our program, which had graduated a pretty nice senior class the year before he showed up — (a class that) took us to the playoffs. Then he shows up as a transfer from Archbishop Murphy and steps right in his sophomore season.”
Stone hopes to have the same kind of impact with the Vandals — but it won’t come next season. He has been forced to greyshirt his freshman season because he wasn’t among the first 25 recruits in his class to sign. Under NCAA rules, Stone can train, but not practice with the team or play in games. He does, however, maintain his year of eligibility and the ability to redshirt in another year if he and the Vandals so choose.
“I think it is actually more to my advantage to build up and train before I step on the field,” he said. “I get to see what the other guys my age are going through and the struggles they’re having and I can use that to my advantage. And I can ease into school without having to be playing in games. I can just learn from everybody else and see where they are struggling and make sure I don’t struggle with that same stuff.”
His high school coach agreed.
“Actually, I think it is really going to help him,” Umayum said. “The fact that he will be able to get acclimated to college life and school and be able to work out and hopefully gain some weight and still have his four years of eligibility, I see him someday really helping out.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.