Friday Night Hero: Carson’s Derrick Sewell
By Bret Strelow
CHINA GROVE ó Derrick Sewell stepped away from football a few weeks into his freshman year as a Carson reserve.
He decided to give the sport another shot as a senior, and his motivation was simple.
“My family was telling me I was scared to get hit,” Sewell said. “I just wanted to show them.”
Bill Thompson, Sewell’s stepfather, delivered most of the good-natured jabs.
Sewell starts at cornerback for the Cougars and leads the county with six interceptions following a three-pick effort in a 31-14 win against West Iredell on Friday night.
A productive season has given Sewell ammunition for the back-and-forth exchanges with Thompson.
“Like, ‘Scared to get what?’ ” Sewell said with a smile. “I flex my muscles, joke around with him a lot.”
Sewell always had been known as a basketball player, and hoops season started Monday with the first official practices.
Carson’s football regular season ended Friday, but the Cougars have their first-ever postseason game for which to prepare. The home victory against West Iredell on senior night gave coach Mark Woody’s team a 6-5 record and clinched fourth place in the NPC.
Sewell’s transition from football to basketball will have to wait until at least the end of next week, when Carson will participate in either a 3A or 3AA playoff game.
“He’s really helped us, not only as a leader, but his attitude’s been great,” Woody said. “I think he’s having fun.”
Sewell possesses playoff experience ó he completed his junior basketball campaign by scoring a career-high 16 points in a 64-61 sectional loss to Forestview.
As years have passed, the football program has benefited from the decisions of versatile athletes such as Sewell and Cody Clanton to play multiple sports.
Carson needed help in the secondary with the departures of graduated defensive backs Scott Ashby and Joseph Keophilavanh. Sewell’s arrival for the first practice caught assistant coach Travis Billings by surprise.
“Coach Woody kept telling me all spring, ‘Don’t worry about it, we’ll figure it out and they’ll show up,’ ” Billings said. “Fortunately, Derrick was one of them that showed up.
“August 1, he walked through the door. I just looked at him and grinned. I didn’t have a clue he was coming.”
Sewell, Deonte Moses and Jared Raper have joined returning starters Jenson Harden and Zack Grkman in the defensive backfield.
Sewell scored on an 18-yard interception return against Jay M. Robinson and recorded the county’s first three-pick performance since 2007, when West Rowan’s Justin Avery had a hat trick against Lake Norman.
Carson held a 12-7 lead late in the first half against West Iredell when Sewell caught a throw that deflected off P.J. Clyburn’s fingertips near the goalline.
Sewell extended both arms high above his head while backpedaling and fell to the turf on his interception in the first minute of the second half, and pressure from Alex Lee helped Sewell end the third quarter with a pick.
“More people are probably wanting to come out because they see we’re starting to win,” Sewell said. “I probably won’t feel another feeling like that.”