ATWATER -- Rodd Parker saw it happen on a number of ocassions this year.
Teams would completely change their offensive attack against his Buhach Colony boys water polo team.
The reason: Devin Stone.
The Buhach Colony senior was a defensive star assigned to guard the other team's top scorer.
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"At Buhach Colony, we've always believed in defense first," Parker said.
"We knew Devin could shut out the opponent's 2-meter player one-on-one.
"I don't have a problem with putting my best player on defense.
"With Devin guarding 2-meters, we didn't have to double team or run a drop. He's just so strong and so skillful."
Stone helped BC win a share of the Central California Conference championship and reach the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.
Stone is the Sun-Star Boys Water Polo Player of the Year.
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"He's strong. He's played varsity for three years," Parker said. "He's seen almost everything. He puts in his time during the summer. He understands the game.
"If you put all those things together, you'll get a good defender."
It wasn't that Stone didn't help out on offense.
He was second on the team in goals.
However, Stone was a game-changer on defense.
He overpowered opposing 2-meter players and forced some teams to try to score from other positions.
His presence in the pool was recognized by other coaches.
Stone was an all-CCC first-team selection and was named to the all-Sac-Joaquin Section first team.
His biggest honor?
Breaking his own single-season school record for steals and Chris Tanzillo's career mark.
"That was a big goal for me," Stone said. "I broke the record last year and I got it again.
"It's exciting. The record is going to be there at least a year."
Stone was a poster boy for Parker's defensive-first philosophy.
As a third-year player, Stone was also counted on as a leader. That's what made BC's accomplishments so special.
"A lot of us have known each other for a long time," Stone said. "Kevin Rozas is my neighbor. Justin Tanzillo is another neighbor.
"Some of us have known each other since preschool.
"It helps when you have to yell at someone in the pool. What happens in the pool, stays in the pool."
It wasn't an easy season for BC.
Stone and his Buhach Colony teammates had to overcome adversity when teammate Eric Parker injured his head and neck midway through the season.
Buhach Colony had to play on with its friend and teammate in the hospital.
"That was really hard," Stone said. "We didn't want to play. We didn't want to practice.
"We wanted to just make sure Eric was OK.
"A lot of what we did was for him. He's been with us since our freshmen year. He helped get this thing going. He always made us laugh.
"We weren't ready for that."
Stone and his teammates definitely made Parker proud.
"We're the only Buhach team to make it to the second round of the playoffs," Stone said. "We were the first team to win a league championship.
"We surprised a lot of people."
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.