Hammonton (N.J.) St. Joseph's junior athlete Kaiwan Lewis will soon shift his focus to the recruiting process, but for now he still has a lot to play for.
St. Joe's earned a bye in the first round of the state playoffs and on Saturday they will be taking on St. Anthony's in Jersey City. The game is about much more than football, according to Lewis.
"We've had two great weeks of practice," Lewis said. "Every day we just keep working and working hard.
"We've got a lot to play for. Our coach is in the hospital. He just went through a procedure and he's been in there for about two weeks. We're going to win this for him."
Lewis' coach, Paul Sacco, went into the hospital more than a week ago with headaches that were causing a lot of pain. The doctors ended up finding blood on his brain. After a 10-hour operation the problem was fixed and Sacco went into recovery, and he is still regaining his strength.
Things like that will help put football in perspective, but Lewis and his teammates are using football as a way of trying to honor their coach, who has dedicated so much of his time and energy to them this year.
Once the season is over Lewis will have some decisions to make. He won't have to make his college destination known for more than another year, but he will start to do his homework on some of the schools he has been hearing from.
The 6-foot-2, 227-pound jumbo athlete has received verbal offers from Boston College, East Carolina, Memphis, Rutgers and Tulane, and more should be on the way.
"There will be a lot more coming in with some of these SEC schools talking to me," Lewis said. "I know Arkansas and Vanderbilt are heavily interested.
"Vanderbilt, you could say they're in a rebuilding stage so they're recruiting me really hard.
"There's been a lot of love from the Arkansas coaches out there. They're telling me I have a chance to come in and compete because they're graduating so many seniors in this class."
Lewis said he will probably attend a couple of combines but he will mostly focus on unofficial visits. Last year he only visited local schools, and now he wants to check out some of the schools further away from home.
While he doesn't feel obliged to attend a school close to home, finding a school that would be convenient for his family to take trips to might be ideal.
"I don't have a problem going anywhere but one thing would be how are my parents going to get to see me play? They really don't have a problem with it, though. Sometimes you've just got to go where the best opportunities are, as far as education," he said.
"I don't just want to go to a big-time school because of the name. I don't want to go there as a big-time recruit and then have to wait until my junior or senior year to get on the field. I don't mind redshirting but I'd like to be on the field by my sophomore year."
In the regular season this year Lewis recorded 60 tackles, seven sacks and an interception on defense, scoring a touchdown as well.
Lewis is being recruited as a defensive end and a linebacker.