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Highland High School
Class Of 1965

'63 Highland Standout QB Terry Stone Passes


Published: Thursday, August 5th, 2021


The 1963 Highland Hornets, beyond dispute, rank among the most dominant teams in New Mexico prep football history.

Front and under center was quarterback Terry Stone, a three-year starter and twice a first-team all-state selection for coach Bill Gentry’s Hornets.  Stone, who would go on to lead the nation in two passing categories for the 1967 New Mexico Lobos, died on July 16 in California. He was 75.

Stone also starred in basketball and helped coach Henry Sanchez’s Hornets win a state track and field title as a long jumper in 1964.  “Terry could play any sport,” said Jim Gates, a Highland football teammate and a longtime friend. “He was a born leader and he truly cared about everyone on the team.”

How good was Highland in 1963? Stone also started in the secondary for a defense that recorded nine shutouts in 11 games.

On offense, with running backs Rick Galles, Bill O’Neil and Charles Sutherland lined up behind Stone, the Hornets put up stunning numbers — beating Santa Fe 54-0, routing Valley 45-0, trouncing defending state champion Farmington 50-0 and blasting Manzano 66-0.

Highland punctuated its perfect season with a 20-0 drubbing of Las Cruces in the state big-school championship game.

No Bill Gentry team of that era was going to fill the air with footballs, but when Stone threw, he did so with precision, flair and devastating effect. He threw only six passes in the title game against Las Cruces but completed five for 99 yards and a touchdown.

“I thought Stone’s passing kept us out of trouble all day,” Gentry told the Journal’s Jerry Shnay.

College recruiters took notice, and Stone eventually signed with Baylor — coached by future UNM athletic director John Bridgers — where Don Trull had led the nation in passing in 1963.

Unfortunately for Stone, by the time his sophomore year rolled around — freshmen were ineligible for varsity competition at the time — a rifle-armed kid from Brownwood, Texas, named Terry Southall had established himself as Trull’s successor. Stone left Waco, Texas without having taken a snap for the Bears.

It was not the competition, though, Stone said, that motivated the transfer to UNM. Rather, he told Pat Thompson of the Associated Press, it was a stomach ailment and a fish-out-of-water feeling in Waco.

“I didn’t finish my fourth semester at Baylor after I got sick,” Stone told the AP in October 1967. “I came back to Albuquerque that summer. I decided I’d rather go (to UNM).  “I felt more at home here while I felt out of place at Baylor.”

The context of the Associated Press interview was Stone’s status as the nation’s leader in passes attempted and completed. He’d turned heads in his second start for the Lobos, throwing for a then-Western Athletic Conference record 389 yards in a 44-14 loss to Brigham Young.

Stone finished the ‘67 season with 160 completions in 336 attempts, both No. 1 in the NCAA’s Division 1-A.

Here, though, was the problem. As good as the 1963 Highland Hornets had been, the 1967 New Mexico Lobos were that bad.

In 1965, as most of Division 1-A went two-platoon, UNM did not. The numbers deficit created by this lack of foresight collapsed coach Bill Weeks’ program.  From 1960-64, Weeks’ teams had gone 34-17-1 and won outright or shared the first three WAC championships. From 1965-67, the Lobos went 6-24 — culminating in a 1-9 record in 1967. Stone’s prolific numbers could not compensate for a defense that yielded an average of 43.3 points and ranked 118th and last in Division1-A.  The program would not truly bottom out, though, until 1968. The Lobos went 0-10 in coach Rudy Feldman’s first year, and Stone did not prosper in Feldman’s more ground-oriented offense — going 58-of-147 passing while sharing time at quarterback with fellow senior Rick Beitler.

After college, Stone briefly played minor-league pro football with the Las Vegas (Nevada) Cowboys and the New Mexico Thunderbirds. He sold real estate in Albuquerque and later settled in California, where, Gates said, he worked at the iconic Cypress Point Golf Course on the Monterey Peninsula for 30 years.

Stone’s legacy at Highland is one he shares with his brothers, Bob and Dean.

Bob, the oldest of the three, played quarterback and defensive back for the Hornets and was all-state in basketball. Dean, the youngest, quarterbacked Highland to another big-school title in 1965. Dean Stone went on to play defensive back at Miami (Florida).

Terry Stone is survived by his wife, Kathy, and two children, Shelley and Sean, from a previous marriage.

“He had a wonderful family,” Gates said, “and was your All-American kid.”