If there was a postseason honor to be had last year, Brighton linebacker Darrien Lewis won it.
In addition to being named all-region for the fourth straight season, he was named all-metro and all-state and also won the National Football Association Foundation Scholar Athlete Award.
Considering Lewis also boasts a 3.4 grade point average and a 28 on the ACT, he was recruited by several football programs around the country.
In the end, though, he chose to stay close to home. In front of family, friends, coaches and the entire team last Friday in the Brighton High School gym, Lewis signed a scholarship with Bethel University, which is about 90 miles away in McKenzie, Tenn.
“I didn’t really want to go too far from home and I felt at home when I visited them,” Lewis said.
Brighton’s defense struggled mightily last season for various reasons, but Lewis was a bright spot for sure. He was one of the team’s top tacklers and was very durable.
Morgan Cruce, Brighton’s new head coach, was coaching at Henry County last season but he’s gotten to know Lewis well. He called Lewis “very mature for his age” and believes he will fit in well at Bethel.
“He just fell in love with what they’re doing up there. I think he’s going to have a chance to make an immediate impact as a freshman because he’s got a good head on his shoulders and his athletic ability.”
Lewis has been a starter since his freshman season and has been a big part of Brighton’s recent success, which includes playoff appearances the last two years. He said the coaches at Bethel told him he would play nickel back and linebacker.
It was no accident that the entire football team attended the signing. Cruce believes it’s important for his new players to see what success looks like.
“I feel like it’s our job as coaches to help our players become successful husbands and fathers and part of that can be going to college some day. When someone can get a scholarship, whether it’s academic or athletic, it not means a lot to us as coaches but it means a lot to the program because it’s evidence of hard work that’s been put in over four years of high school. It gives a lot of hope to the younger guys. We had our whole team sit in thy gym to watch the signing so they could see how the culmination of four years of hard work can pay off.”