High School Football

Former coach keeping close eye on Hilton Head Christian football from afar

Tommy Lewis is busy with his own playoff run at his new school in Florida

ccox@islandpacket.comNovember 22, 2013 

Tommy Lewis is quite busy nowadays.

The former Hilton Head Christian Academy football coach is busy making preparations this week for a regional championship in Lakeland, Fla., where his new team -- Victory Christian Academy -- is experiencing a revival this season. The Storm won just four games in 2012 but have doubled their win total thus far under Lewis, who is two wins away from a state championship.

But Lewis has still found time to keep tabs on his former team, which returns to the SCISAA Class 2-A state title game this Saturday for a fifth consecutive season. The Eagles won back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012 under Lewis' direction and are hoping for a first crown this year under new coach Ryan Mitch.

"Our kids, and of course my wife and I, still have a lot of ties up there," Lewis said earlier this week by phone. "So we've definitely been keeping up with what's been going on. We're very excited for them."

Lewis, who won 97 games and four state titles in 10 seasons with the program, has stayed in touch with a number of former players. Quarterback Brad Meccariello remains in frequent contact, he said, as do DeAngelo Clark and Thomas Gloven, among others.

"I've kept in touch with a number of the guys, particularly in the junior and senior classes," Lewis said. "I'm very excited for them. I've kept tabs on them all throughout the year and kept up on their progress.

" ... I'm just sorry I won't be able to get up there and see them play. But I've been encouraging them to get the three-peat."

Lewis departed Hilton Head Christian in January after school budget cuts forced the coach to take a hit in salary. He left with all but two of the school's all-time wins after replacing the late Jim Carlen in April 2003, and captured the school's first winning season, playoff victory, state title appearance and state title, undefeated season and back-to-back championships.

Mitch was hired a month later and has since guided the Eagles to nine straight victories following an 0-2 start. Lewis lauded his efforts following early-season defeats to Hammond School and Bible Baptist.

"The record and the results speak for themselves," he said. "I have not spoken with the coaches at all over the season, but they've obviously done a fantastic job of making adjustments and keeping the kids together, keeping them focused.

"To have a little bit of a rough start at the beginning of the year and then to do what they've done, it's a tribute to the players and a real compliment to the coaches, as well."

Lewis is hopeful Victory Christian Academy will remain in the state playoffs this week with a win over Warner Christian. If it does, he plans on keeping up with the Eagles' title game Saturday while beginning prep work for the state semifinals, he said.

"I can't wait to see them come off the field with that third ring in a row," he said. "That's going to be awesome for them."

SCISAA CLASS 2-A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP

Who: Hilton Head Christian Academy vs. Florence Christian

When: Noon Saturday

Where: Charlie W. Johnson Stadium, Benedict College, Columbia

Cost: $8 adults, $4 students, $10 parking

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