‘Unselfish’ Stone paces Panthers

by Mark Oliver

After dropping the Salt Bowl to Bryant, 10-7, in Week 1, Benton rebounded last week with a 61-0 shutout of Parkview. According to senior running back/defensive back Preston Stone, the Panthers’ lopsided victory helped send a message about the tenacity of his team.

“We’ve been working hard all summer,” Stone said. “Because we lost a lot of talent from last year’s team, there have been many people doubting what we are capable of. However, the atmosphere in our locker room is positive. We are really looking forward to having a great year, if not a better year than the past two years.”

Stone was selected for this year’s 501 Football Team – 26 players representing all 11 counties of the 501. The team, sponsored by First Security Bank and First Service Bank, boasts the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field. Reed was nominated by Benton head coach, Scott Neathery.

“On and off the field, Preston is a hard worker,” Neathery wrote in his nomination. “He is polite, unselfish, has high character and is very smart. We expect him to be our team leader this year.”

“Preston is the definition of ‘team player’ on and off the field,” added Benton High School English teacher Stephanie Moon. “He is always supportive of his classmates and is a role model for every kid around him. He is brilliant, intuitive and has an understanding of deeper meaning that just can’t be taught.”

In his senior season, Stone hopes to lead the Panthers to high school football greatness.

“The only personal goal I have set for myself this year is to be able to look back on the season with no regrets,” Stone said. “No ‘I could have played harder’ or ‘I could have done more to help my team win.’ I’m committed to working as hard as I can to help my team go deep into the playoffs and play for a state championship. If that means I need 10 interceptions or 100 tackles, I’m looking forward to doing it.”

This week, Benton (1-1) takes on Greenbrier (2-0) to conclude non-conference play.

“Greenbrier looks pretty good this year,” Stone said. “They have a balanced offense and will throw the ball more than we’ve seen in the past two weeks. We’ll need to play consistently on both sides of the ball to win. This game will be a test for us that will help prepare us for conference play next week against Russellville.”

Off the field, Stone takes pride in his schoolwork and enjoys reading and playing basketball with friends. In addition to his impressive 4.2 GPA, Stone is a member of Math Club and BHS Serve at Benton High School.

“BHS Serve is something new that I helped form here at Benton,” Stone said. “Our principal handpicked a few students with a heart for serving others. We assist teachers and students alike with anything they need. One of my first duties was to visit a sick student who was missing a lot of school. I brought that student chocolate and lemonade and let them know that they were missed and encouraged them to get well and come back to school.”

“I have seen Preston’s kindness to other students and the respectful manner in which he addresses each and every adult he comes into contact with,” Moon wrote. “I have also seen him go out of his way to be helpful or kind. He is mature beyond his years.”

After high school, Stone plans to pursue a career in the medical field.

“Medicine intrigues me,” Stone said. “I’ve always been really interested in science — it’s always been my favorite subject. I’ve narrowed down my list of colleges to two — either Ouachita Baptist University or the University of Arkansas.”

Regarding his successes on and off the field, the humble Stone recognizes the power of faith and hard work.

“All of my accomplishments that I have are a direct reflection of God-given ability, which I am extremely grateful for, and a lot of hard work through the years,” Stone said.

“All the accomplishments — they haven’t come easy. I’ve had to work really hard both on and off the field to achieve what I have.”

Benton plays host to Greenbrier on Friday, Sept. 16.