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'There won't be another one'

Quicy Lewis' quiet approach to making Cedar Creek history
Matt Belinson
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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That's what talking about Quincy Lewis does to Middleton, head coach for Cedar Creek football.

And now that Lewis stands alone as Cedar Creek's all-time leading tackler, it's time to give the senior linebacker his flowers in Middleton's mind — despite the fact Lewis would want to be as far away from praise as he can.

"I call him 'The Quiet Assassin," Middleton said. "He doesn't talk. He does his job. He's a coach's dream. He's the perfect team guy. You only get to coach so many of them throughout your life and he's noe of them."

Lewis walked onto the field Friday against Delhi 7 tackles away from breaking the school record set by Christian Marcus with 315 tackles. While the record was not the priority for Lewis, nothing was going to keep him off the field Friday to have a chance.

After all, he played with a broken finger last year and had surgery to try to repair the damage. And while it still isnt' 100%, he clearly hasn't le tit impact his play. The only thing that's changed with the injury is he's given the finger a name: Steve.

"He leads by example," Middleton said. "They know the minute he walks out at any time he's ready to go."

Born out of old school

In an age where football players might be preoccupied with 247 Sports Composite rankings, Hudl highlights or their pregame swag, Lewis is a different breed.

The weight room is his happy place, setting a tone for his teammates through gritty lifts, always without a shirt according to Middleton. Practice isn't time to relax and go light ahead of Friday night action. It's another chance to go hit and get better.

Cedar Creek defensive coordinator Mark Ware has been around the game for decades, and Lewis reminds him of former teammates and prep stars of his day.

It's a welcome sight.

"He's a guy that would have fit in great in the '60s and '70s, I can assure you," Ware said. "He's the kind of kid that would play if the bone was sticking out. You'd have to fight him to take him off the field."

Lewis demands a lot of himself because for him football is about the work. Why do something if you don't want perfection every time?

"To play the best game that you can, you're going to have to find a new level to push beyond," Lewis said.

It's what he loves about playing under Middleton.

The Cougars play with a clear standards, and Lewis has bought in from the moment he put on a varsity uniform.

"(Middleton is) gonna coach you hard every single day you walk out there," Lewis said. "If you're gonna be out here, you're gonna play the hardest you can, and that's what he expects of you."

The old-school attitude comes out in full form in his dedication to his body. As he walks out onto the track adjacent to the weight room, Lewis looks the part. And his coaches have taken notice and even admit they wouldn't want to mess with him.

"Look at him, he looks like Tarzan," Ware said.

"He could go life the weight room," Middleton said. "He's a freak of nature, man."

It's how Lewis and his coaches have built an unspoken — sometimes literally — relationship through this grind.

Lewis is a player of few words on and off the field. He lets his play do the talking.

It's a rare sight to see when, in an age where players, and even coaches, boast and get brash about individual moments, a player of Lewis' caliber goes about his business in silence most of the time.

Middleton describes his coaching style as a mix of old and new school, taking what he learned as a player and bringing true discipline and work ethic into a new generation, while also understanding how current players think. He's got sons of his own who play.

Don't confuse old-school with out of touch.

But the same might not be said for Lewis, who didn't even get a phone until last year.

"He is born out of old-school," Middleton said. "He's that true throwback. If I'm in an alleyway right now and I'm in trouble, that's one dude I'm looking for."

Perfect leader

Football is all about 11 players working to make their play come together in successful tandem, using chemistry and preparation to make plays happen.

But on good teams, individuals can just bring more to the table on and off the field.

"He's the kind of guy you certainly want a whole bunch of him on your team, I can assure you," Ware said. "He's the kind of guy you want to look up to. He's so focused, a very no-nonsense guy, go get the job done. That's the kind of guy you want leading."

Lewis has wanted to be one of those standouts. He views his play as more than just winning the next play; he wants to be there for his teammates — his family.

"A lot of time you're not even thinking about yourself, you're like, 'I gotta play for my teammate here, my family here,'" Lewis said. "The last thing you want to do is let your family down."

He may not show it on his face, but Lewis said his teammates making playing the game fun. He doesn't laugh or shed a smile a ton but said film study and bus trips build the family bond even tighter.

Leadership is sometimes thrown on players based on the position they play, or selected captains. But some become leaders naturally, without loud speeches or a barrage of cursing.

Watch Lewis play and that's all it really takes to follow him. It showed Saturday and throughout the senior linebacker's career.

"I don't say this about all of them. You want a perfect teammate? No. 57 is your perfect picture of it," Middleton said. "And I mean that.

"I'm 44 years old and I look up to him. I really do. That's not a cliche. Just because of how he carries himself and he handles himself. You can't replace him. There won't be another one."

Lewis didn't pretend to not know he was close to the record but said it's not just about him. Tackles don't come from one person. 10 others must do their jobs to get Lewis to where he is.

"It's one of those things you try not to think about it, but you're naturally like, 'Man, I need six (tackles),' he said. "But I'm glad it happened. I'm glad I don't have to think about it anymore for sure."

He now has 318 tackles in his carrer, and he plans to add plenty more.