EVERETT — An unexpected position switch changed everything for Mike Stone.
Stone never imagined he would be an East-West All-Star, especially as an offensive lineman. As a junior at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Stone was a starting inside linebacker on defense and a backup halfback on offense for the Tomahawks varsity football team.
At that time, his identity was hard-hitting defender.
Offense? Leave that to the other guys, the ones Stone liked to pummel.
But last summer came a twist. Marysville-Pilchuck coaches planned to use a lot of running plays that required linemen who could pull. They needed a player with decent size but, more importantly, good footwork and quickness.
M-P head coach Brandon Carson decided no one fit the mold better than Stone. But when Carson suggested the position change to Stone, the senior-to-be wasn’t so sure.
“I guess I’m pretty quick for my size,” said the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Stone, “so they wanted to set me up at guard. I was just kind of joking around like, ‘Oh, yeah. All right guys.’”
In other words, Stone didn’t think the experiment would stick. He was wrong.
Stone thrived as a guard. This past fall, during his senior season, he played a key role in M-P’s devastating rushing attack, helping the Tomahawks achieve one of the best seasons in program history. They started 9-0, won the Western Conference North Division title and lost to Issaquah in the Class 4A quad-district playoffs.
“He’s a pretty cerebral kid,” coach Carson said. “He picked up the rules and schemes really fast.”
It took several weeks of practice and a full game to feel comfortable on the line, Stone said. But his positive approach certainly helped.
“I was optimistic about it for a while,” Stone said. “It ended up not being such a bad thing. I mean, it got me here.”
“Here” refers to the Class 3A/4A East-West All-Star Football Game, where pretty much every high school gridiron player in Washington wants to be. Stone and his teammates on the West squad will play the East stars at 1 p.m. Saturday at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“It feels great,” Stone said. “I didn’t even think I was going to make it, honestly. When my coach told me, I was surprised.”
The experience is extra enjoyable for Stone because one of his M-P teammates also made it. Linebacker/running back Ryan Sterley is a member of the West squad too.
“Sharing this with him is awesome,” Stone said.
Stone, who enjoys playing video games like Call of Duty and shooting clay pigeons with pals, plans to attend Central Washington University. He doesn’t have a guaranteed spot on the football team but might try to walk on. Sterley is considering the same route, Carson said.
The M-P coach looks forward to seeing Stone and Sterley represent the Tomahawks on Saturday. It appears that Stone will play on offense as a guard and Sterley will be at linebacker.
“I’m thrilled,” said Carson. “They are deserving nominees — great leaders who did great things.”
Mike Cane: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.