Lewis gives Catonsville go-to guy Strong runner piles up yards, TDs

October 19, 1992|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

He says, "My strength is my power," and Catonsville High opponents readily will agree: James Lewis is a load.

Solidly built at 205 pounds, Lewis is a smaller version of Chesapeake's battering ram, Lamar King, a running back who is more eager to go through a defensive end or cornerback than around him.

Comets coach Warren Como agrees that Lewis is not the fastest lead back in area high school football, but "he's a diesel, a truck, a John Riggins-type. This kid is the big bang."

Despite operating behind a small offensive line that causes him to gain a lot of tough yards on his own, the senior is challenging Towson's Tex Deleon for the metro rushing title and Kenwood split end Joe Gray for the metro scoring title.

In Catonsville's first seven games, Lewis rolled up 1,330 yards rushing, 16 touchdowns and seven two-point conversions.

And all this despite a delayed start. A summer job shortened his preseason practice time to a week. In the second half of the first game against Centennial, "He was dead tired the second half," Como said.

Yet, Lewis had 180 yards on 14 carries in 99-degree heat and followed that with 256 yards the next week against Loch Raven.

Now, he averages 25 to 30 rushes a game and Como tries "to spare him as much as I can on defense," where he plays middle linebacker. Just like King.

"I like offense a lot better," said Lewis, who never played organized football until his sophomore year in high school. "I like putting points on the board."

Como prefers a run-oriented, veer-type offense that is averaging 24 points a game. But the 3-4 Comets also are allowing a lot of points.

"If we had more depth in the backfield, I might spell him on offense, too," the coach said. "But, even though James is our second-leading tackler, I have to do it on defense." Lewis also plays basketball, averaging 16 points and 13 rebounds a game for the Comets, and he wants to try pitching for the school's baseball team this spring.

But it is in football that he is making a major impact.

"He's a Division I player," Como said. "He's a great kid who works very hard. He doesn't have overall sprinter's speed, but he has good instincts, finds the holes. Everything he does is sound.

"He's physically bigger than most kids. So we give him the ball and he gives us the yardage."

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