Gem Stone

Little Rock Parkview standout Erick Stone (6-3, 200, 4.53) is hardly getting to come off the field for the Patriots this season, but is certainly making the most of his time on the gridiron.

There's always the kickoff team and the extra point unit.

That's the only two times that versatile Little Rock Parkview standout Erick Stone (6-3, 200, 4.53) is not on the football field after picking up punt return duties this past week in a 38-0 bashing of Hot Springs.

"Well, that is unless we go for two after a touchdown," Stone said. "Then I stay out there for that."

Stone is presently playing wide receiver, safety, punting and is returning punts and kickoffs this season for Parkview (2-1), who is prepping for its AAAAA-Central Conference opener with Little Rock Hall (2-1) on Friday.

"It's a big game for us," Stone said of the Hall matchup. "This is the last year we will be in this classification before dropping down, it's my senior year and it is a year that we can change things back around here at Parkview. To do that we have to take care of business this week."

Stone, drawing interest from the University of Arkansas, Tennessee, Memphis, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and LSU, certainly is doing his part to make the turnaround from a 3-7 squad last season to a possible playoff one this season.

He had 7 catches for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns in the win over Hot Springs, a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown and also had 10 tackles and an interception on defense as the Parkview defense limited winless Hot Springs to just 88 yards total offense.

"I had some great numbers, but we all played well," Stone said. "That's the big thing, getting the win and getting better at the same time."

For the season, Stone has caught 18 passes for 321 yards, has over 40 tackles and the one interception after a junior campaign where he had 40 catches for over 600 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Part of the reason he has to do so much is Parkview - who ended the 2004 season with 26 players - has less than 40 players out for football this season.

"I don't mind playing all the time," Stone said. "I'm in good shape and I would rather be doing that than standing around watching somebody else play anyway."

Stone, also a standout basketball player, has already a lone scholarship offer from Ouachita as the Division I big boys continue to evaluate his ability.

"A lot of schools like Fayetteville (the University of Arkansas), Memphis and Tennessee and some others really seem to be getting interested in me right now," Stone said. "They are giving me a lot of attention now and I think that is going to pay off."

Stone will be on hand at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock for Arkansas' game with Louisiana-Monroe on Oct. 8 and then will be in Fayetteville to take in the Razorbacks' game with Auburn on Oct. 15.

"I really like Fayetteville and could certainly see myself playing for them," Stone said. "They are at the top of my list."

That's even after a disconcerting two weeks for the Razorbacks, which included a 70-17 hammering at two-time defending national champion USC last weekend.

"I watched it, but it really didn't change my opinion about Arkansas," Stone said. "Look, USC is going to do that to about every team they play this year. They are just a great, great football team. You can't really judge the rest of the year by what happened in that game. They are going to continue to make a lot of teams look bad this year.

"I do know why they scheduled that game," Stone said. "They wanted to be take a shot against the best and get themselves ready for conference play. Now there is nothing they want have seen. I still think they are going to have a good year. There is a lot of good young talent up there."

Stone has thought about the possibility of being on the field next year when Arkansas hosts USC on Sept. 9 in Fayetteville.

"Things are going to be different then," Stone said. "A lot of USC guys will be gone on to the pros and Arkansas will be a lot better and it will be in Arkansas, which will help a lot. They have a great atmosphere at their games."

While Robert Johnson is settling in as the Razorback quarterback, Stone is well aware of how Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain - the nations top-ranked high school quarterback according to - will be arriving in Fayetteville next season.

He had a chance to catch passes from Mustain at an Arkansas camp this summer.

"He's good, real good," Stone said. "I think we could make a nice pair of weapons."

Stone - being recruited by most schools as a wideout but as a safety by some - said he would prefer to play on the offensive side of the ball in college.

"That's what I think I am best at, but I wouldn't mind playing safety either because I like to hit people and make things happen over there, too," Stone said. "Mostly, though, I am just thinking about Parkview having a great year. That's the first thing on my mind right now."

Parkview, picked to finish last in the conference race this season, is eyeing shocking the state in conference that Little Rock Central has dominated the past few years but has now come back to the pack this season.

"I think we can get there," Stone said. "We've been watching film on them and Hall's got a good team, but I think if we play like we are capable of than we can take them out. I'm hoping to have another big game and do my part in making that happen."

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