It’s all about team for Stone Graham Craft
Just one day after signing Ridgeland’s Eric Byrd, Georgia Northwestern head coach David Stephenson dipped back into Walker County to pick up another recruit in LaFayette senior Stone Graham.
Graham was one of just two seniors on the Ramblers’ Region 6-AAAA championship squad that made a run all the way to the Class 4A Elite Eight this past season.
He said he was grateful for the opportunity to continue his playing career at the next level.
“I got the opportunity so I took it,” he said. “It means a lot to me. This is another great opportunity that I’ve had in my life. (LaFayette head coach) Hank (Peppers) helped me out a whole lot through all of this and I’ve had great teammates. I’m really thankful and blessed to be in this spot.”
“From a playing perspective, Stone is a really good player,” Peppers said. “He can slash to the basket, he finished a lot of games for us and helped us in big moments. He’s only been playing organized basketball for about a year-and-a-half, so his best basketball is still ahead of him. I think he’s going to be a steal. He has tremendous upside and he’s a gymrat, so he puts in the work.”
“I bring what I put on the table,” Graham added. “I just bring as much as I can and I want to work hard to put even more on the table.”
Peppers said that one of the things that set Graham apart is his unselfish nature.
“I’ve never coached anyone with a better attitude than Stone,” Peppers continued. “He’s a true team-first player and he’s willing to fill whatever role is necessary to help the team win. Plus, he’s happy to do that and he embraces it.
“He’s been a blessing championship.”
The younger Craft said sacrifices are a necessary part of what it takes to be considered an elite wrestler and a leader for his team.
“It’s important to show leadership,” he explained. “Griffin and I are both good leaders on our teams and I know we both put in a lot of hard work. You have to go places and be willing to do things. I think that’s why we do so well.
“You have to be willing to give up your time and catch up on any schoolwork you might miss. You have to cut weight when you don’t want to and you have to go places when
you could just be at home, sit around and be lazy. Instead you go out and try to get better.”
Craft is getting it done in the classroom, as well as on the mat. A two-time Heritage team scholar-athlete, he sports a 4.0 grade point average.
He will take a career record of 139-48 into his senior year and knows he will have a target on his back every time he takes to the mat next season.
“You just have to step out on that mat every single time, no matter who you’re wrestling, and just go out and wrestle your best,” he added. “You have to give it all you can give because you never know, you might get beat on any given day.”