Published: 11:13 PM, Fri Aug 03, 2012
Senior Garry Lewis ready to step up for Douglas Byrd football team
Garry Lewis enjoys a good game of chess.
"I love the strategy,'' Lewis said. "It's a mind game.''
While he's no Bobby Fischer behind the chess board, Lewis has been making all the right moves on the football field for the Douglas Byrd Eagles since joining the varsity as a freshman in 2009.
But after three seasons as a supporting player, Lewis has now moved into the lead role.
Byrd coach Russell Stone plans to use Lewis like the Eagles' third-round state playoff opponent Northern Guilford utilized running back T.J. Logan last season. Logan, a running back who has committed to play at North Carolina, helped Northern to a 35-6 win that was the only blemish on the Eagles' 13-1 record.
"The first seven plays against Northern Guilford, Logan lined up in seven different positions and got the ball every time,'' Stone said. "You'll see us doing things like that with Garry. You're talking about a guy who we'd like to see get 25 touches between punt returns, kick returns, carries and catches every game. If he's rolling, he'll get more than that.''
Lewis has been "rolling'' on the football field since his days in the Hoke County recreation leagues. He experienced success at an early age when he sparked the Cowboys to the county recreation championship as a running back.
"In the championship game, I executed like three cutbacks to score the game-winning touchdown,'' Lewis said. "I was like, 'Hey, this is kind of natural to me. I'm going to take this and run with it.' ''
Lewis moved to Cumberland County in the seventh grade. Two years later, he found himself punting and subbing at running back and receiver for a Byrd team that advanced deep into the state playoffs.
Stone knew even at that early stage there was something special about Lewis.
"I saw no fright in him, no matter what we put in front of him,'' Stone said. "And the other thing about Garry, when he first got here he was willing to accept the work ethic of the older guys.''
Lewis also accepted playing second fiddle to some talented players as a sophomore and junior.
Running back Lorenzo Pooler and quarterback Junior Williams were both 1,000-yard rushers for the Eagles in 2010. Lewis saw his share of action, too, gaining 575 yards on 92 carries and scoring six touchdowns. Last year, Pooler led all Cumberland County rushers with 1,758 yards on 173 carries.
Despite getting 68 fewer carries, the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Lewis managed to rank ninth in county rushing with 884 yards and he scored 11 touchdowns.
"He's gotten minimal carries the last two years while the quarterback and Lorenzo got tons of carries,'' Stone said. "I never heard anything from him (Lewis). He just wants to win.''
And win Lewis has.
The Eagles have produced an overall record of 33-8 and a 14-4 mark in league play during his three seasons. Lewis is hopeful those win totals will increase this year as Douglas Byrd is regarded as a top contender for the Cape Fear Valley 3-A Conference and state titles.
Victories haven't come as easy for Lewis in chess, mainly because it's difficult to find opponents.
"I go up to friends sometimes and say, 'You want to play chess?' '' Lewis said. "They look at me kind of weird, like I'm speaking a foreign language. I've played online, but I stop at the medium level.
"I'm a much better football player.''
Staff writer Sammy Batten can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3534.