After spending two injury-plagued seasons on the sidelines and in the dugout, Indian River senior Sean Lewis is finally healthy and looking to make the most of his final year of high school.
“I love it,” Lewis said of returning to competition. “This year was my chance to play both [football and soccer]. I’m hoping to play basketball this winter, so, hopefully, I’ll get to play four sports my senior year.”
In addition to returning as the varsity soccer team’s goalie this fall, Lewis joined the football team as its punter and anticipates trying out for the varsity basketball team this winter. He will then look to play baseball in the spring.
Lewis missed the 2005 baseball season with a broken humerus bone in his throwing arm. He followed that up with a broken ankle suffered while competing with the River Soccer Club in Scotland prior to the 2006 fall season, which kept him out for nearly the entire season.
Lewis recovered from both injuries and went on to have a successful junior season on the varsity baseball team, where he earned a second-team All-Conference selection at shortstop. He followed that up with a successful summer season playing numerous positions for the Post 28 Sussex East Warriors Legion baseball team.
And now that he’s healthy, Lewis mentioned that he’d never given re-injury by playing football a second thought. Actually, the only nervousness Lewis has is whether he gets off a good punt or not.
“I’m more nervous about getting my punt off right than getting hit,” Lewis admitted. “I’ll make a tackle if I have to.”
But with his leg and the coaching received from former Diamond Football League punter Bob Bishop, it’s very unlikely he’ll have to make many tackles, if any at all.
“Sean can really kick the ball,” Indians head football coach Jim Bunting said.
Lewis began toying with the idea of becoming the team punter over the summer and eventually met up with Bishop for some one-on-one tutelage.
Bishop, who also owns the Kool Bean coffee and ice cream shop in the Marketplace at Sea Colony, has punted in the DFL for eight years, dating back to 1999, when he broke in with the Sussex County Grizzles. His leg received quite a bit of interest from a few National Football League teams and he eventually earned a tryout with the Houston Texans during their inaugural season, though he didn’t make the team. And during that time, Bishop was able to pick up some of the finer points of punting.
“It’s all about technique,” he said. “And he’s close. It’s just a matter of him getting the technique down.”
That and flexibility.
Bishop advised Lewis that, to be a good punter, you not only have to use the proper technique but also must be flexible. The higher his punting leg goes, the more follow-through on his kicks, which ultimately results in higher and longer kicks.
And to help him reach his maximum potential, Bishop has encouraged Lewis to follow a stretching regiment that any professional kicker would use. Bishop’s advised him to stretch extensively morning, noon and night, and before and after punting — despite the fact that many of the stretches are painful.
“It’s really painful and you can definitely feel it,” Lewis said. “But after a few weeks you can see the results.”
Lewis punted only one ball during the Indians’ 34-31 overtime win over Cape Henlopen on Sept. 7 and, though it went only 33 yards, it went out of bounds and eliminated any chance of a return. Lewis mentioned that his only real concern was getting the punt off in time to prevent it from being blocked and dealing with the surge in adrenaline of playing in front of a packed home crowd.
“I was in for one play, and I can honestly say I’ve never felt an adrenaline rush like that,” Lewis said. “And on my first punt, I felt pressure from the right side and I did what I could, but at least they didn’t get to return it.”
One week later, Lewis improved his punting drastically, booting his one and only punt on inside the 20-yard line for a net total of 47 yards on the Indians’ opening drive in the 42-14 win over Stephen Decatur.
On the soccer field, Lewis and the Indians varsity team have yet to allow a goal. And through four games, they’ve won three, lost none and tied Dover at nil apiece in overtime on Sept. 13.
A big reason for their success thus far has been Lewis’s play.
“Sean is definitely one of the better athletes,” Indians varsity soccer head coach Steve Kilby said. “He can pick his sport but as a keeper he’s one of the best in the state in my opinion.
“He goes up and takes the ball out of the air,” he added. “He offers you that type of ability.”