Record-setting Lewis focused on team success

Jeff Birchfield • Aug 3, 2019 at 5:12 PM

ERWIN — Kody Lewis is coming off the most prolific rushing season ever for a Unicoi County football player. Ask the senior running back about last year, it’s not the school-record 2,025 rushing yards, the 26 touchdowns he scored or even being named all-state which he mentions.

Instead, his answer is about the team’s success and the Blue Devils posting the school’s first playoff victory since 1985.

“Just going 9-3, winning our first playoff game at home with a great atmosphere,” Lewis said about the 2018 campaign. “I expect us to be good again. We have a lot of good players this year like Tracy Vanover, Peyton Whitson and Brock Thompson.”

While those receivers, Vanover and Whitson, and quarterback Thompson are key cogs, Lewis is the one defensive coordinators fear the most. He averaged over 10 yards per carry a season ago and three times was named the Johnson City Press/Kingsport Times News player of the week.

He absolutely torched Greene County teams, scoring four touchdowns in a 42-32 win over South Greene to open the season. He had 18 carries for 325 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-17 win over Chuckey-Doak, and finished with 28 carries for 396 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-20 romp over West Greene.

Lewis, an obvious choice for the JCP/KTN Elite 11 team, isn’t one to soak in the individual praise.

“That’s a credit to my team, the way they played,” Lewis said. “They’ve helped me out.”

His rushing totals could actually diminish this season as he has worked to become a more complete back. He’s looking to catch the ball more after only two of his 26 touchdowns came through the air. He has gone to camps, which have helped hone his receiving skills.

He is already a top all-around player. He averaged over 20 yards on kickoff returns and recorded 64 tackles from the linebacker position. His versatility has Unicoi County coach Drew Rice moving Lewis to safety in the Blue Devils’ 4-3 defense.

Lewis comes from a football family. His older brother Dylan was the captain of the Johnson City Press All-Tough Guy team in 2016 after racking up 153 tackles on defense and accounting for 733 receiving yards on offense. While Kody has the genes and God-given talent, timed 4.46 in the 40-yard dash, his coach sees the constant dedication to get better.

“He is unbelievably committed,” Rice said. “He’s a weight-room kid. Obviously, everybody talks about his speed, but it’s commitment. He’s physical, not like a kid who’s really fast but runs away from everybody. He seeks contact, but once he gets to the second level, he’s gone with his breakaway speed. He and his older brother, Dylan, have both meant a lot to this program.”

There is a singular focus with Lewis, who has logged significant playing time since his freshman season. He is wrapped up in the game of football and his dedication to the game is truly a labor of love.

“I go fishing at times, but I really don’t have anything I’m into like I am with football,” he said. “Football has done a lot for me and I put a lot of time into it.”

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