• 77°

Tallulah senior did it all in first year at quarterback

Michael Lewis moved from wide receiver to quarterback in the second game of the season.

To say the switch was a good fit for the multitalented senior from Tallulah High is an understatement. He scored three touchdowns in his first quarter under center.

And that was just a preview of what was to come.

“He was a big surprise,” Trojans coach Clay Ranager said of Lewis, who made the all-Louisiana Class 1A team last year as a defensive back. He is also a two-time All-Area selection on the defensive side of the ball

Lewis, a 6-foot-1, 180-pounder, accounted for 27 touchdowns in nine games to lead the Trojans to a playoff berth and a 5-5 finish. His numbers were also good enough to get selected Vicksburg Post Offensive Player of the Year.

“He was 75 percent of our offense,” Ranager said.

“My dad coached 32 years and he said (Lewis) is one of the best he’s seen,” Ranager said, referring to longtime Millsaps coach Tommy Ranager. “He’s just an all-sport athlete.”

Lewis did it all on the field, too, after trading places with Troy Gaines, who started the season at quarterback. Gaines became Lewis’ top target, catching 12 of his 14 touchdown passes. Lewis completed 66 of 137 passes for 1,380 yards and rushed for 715 yards and nine more scores. He also returned two kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns while averaging 21 yards per punt return while still playing in the secondary.

“He did some cheers for us too,” Clay Ranager said with a chuckle.

Lewis has adequate speed, but he was “just tough to tackle,” Ranager said, noting that at least five of his rushing TDs were more than 50 yards.

He was a quick study at quarterback, Ranager said.

“We did a lot of sprint-outs, bootlegs,” he said. “He’s got a strong arm. He can throw the long pass and the touch came two or three weeks later.”

Ranager said Lewis will almost certainly be a defensive back at the next level, even though playing quarterback “took away from his game defensively.”

Of course, he had set some lofty standards on that side of the ball. He had 14 interceptions last year.

But playing quarterback will help him on defense in the long run, Ranager said.

“When a DB has played quarterback, he knows what quarterbacks are looking for,” he said. “They know what he’s thinking and that can be beneficial.”

Ranager said some four-year schools in Louisiana and Arkansas are looking at Lewis, who will not qualify academically.

So he expects him to go to a junior college, possibly defending Mississippi state champion Hinds.

“He’s real intelligent,” Ranager said. “He was on the honor roll … he just didn’t get serious about academics until this year. He seems focused now.”