Friday Night Hero: West Rowan’s Jarius Lewis
By Ronnie Gallagher
SALISBURY ó There was only time for one, maybe two, plays before halftime and Concord was on the West Rowan 1-yard line.
A Spider touchdown would break a 6-6 tie and give Glen Padgettís team all the momentum going into the locker room.
Jarius Lewis made sure that didnít happen. You could say he was ěloaded for bear.î
Westís defense was in its ěBearî package and coaches knew it was time for the ěheavy stuff.î
That meant Lewis, a 5-foot-11, 255-pound noseguard, had to blast the Spider center and disrupt any attempt at a quarterback sneak by 6-6 quarterback B.J. Beecher.
Lewis was instrumental in stopping Beecher twice, giving West all the momentum to win the second half and the game 22-14, in the third round of the 3A playoffs. The Falcons advance to their fourth straight Western 3A final Friday at Burns.
ěIt was nice,î smiled Lewis of the stops. ěThe coaches were fired up and the players were fired up.î
Beecher had already scored on a one-yard run and defensive coordinator David Hunt pretty much knew what was coming.
ěThe quarterback sneak ó theyíve been really good at it,î he said.
Lewis knew his role perfectly.
ěThey put me in just to blow the center back,î he said.
Hunt explained the ěheavy stuffî strategy.
ěIf the center tries to go right, you stuff him right as hard as you can and as far back as you can. If the center tries to go left, itís the reverse of that.î
ěJarius is the one that gets the operation going,î said defensive line assistant Ralph Ellis.
Beecher would try two straight sneaks.
On the first, Lewis made sure there was no penetration.
ěThe center came at me and I pushed him into the gap,î Lewis said. ěI think Trey Shepherd or Greg Dixon made the tackle.î
ěHe made the quarterback bubble around,î Hunt said.
Lewis was ready to run off the field.
ěI thought time had run out and I started celebrating a little bit,î he admitted.
That wasnít the case. Concord hurried back to the line for one last chance before the horn sounded.
ěIt was just a team effort (on the second one),î Lewis said. ěEverybody saw he was going. Everybody ran over there and wrapped him up.î
Making big plays is something Lewis kind of fell into. He didnít play football his first two seasons but came out as a junior.
ěI got into weightlifting and got bigger so I thought Iíd give it a shot,î he said.
It took about the entire season to grasp the concept of what his assignments were. This season, he came in prepared. He is one of several good defensive lineman.
ěHe has improved by leaps and bounds,î Ellis praised.
Head coach Scott Young sure seemed impressed with Lewisí play at the end of the half.
ěHe had a lot to do with those two stands,î Young said. ěIf I had to describe him, Iíd say, ërun-stopper.í î
Lewis proved it in front of the home fans.
ěThat really provided us with momentum to have a good third quarter,î Hunt said. ěJarius has become an integral part of the rotation.î
Now, Lewis and the Falcons go to Cleveland County on Friday night.
ěWeíre going to try and win and get a trip to Chapel Hill,î Lewis said.
And if Burns tries a run from in close, Lewis knows it will be time for the ěheavy stuff.î
If things play out like last week, West coaches know Lewis will bring the right stuff.
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