PIQUA — Jerell Lewis, Lance Reaves-Hicks and Ca’ron Coleman were three very significant cogs in the Piqua football team’s undefeated regular season and Miami Valley League championship this past season.
And, after having it delayed a day by weather, the three PHS seniors made their college football choices official in Garbry Gymnasium Thursday morning.
Lewis was an offense’s worst nightmare from his defensive end position the last two seasons for the Indians.
He was named first team all-MVL both years and was the MVL Defensive Player of the Year this year. He was also named D-II All-Southwest District and first team All-Ohio.
As a junior, he had 49 tackles, 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered.
This season, he had 40 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
Reaves-Hicks, an All-MVL selection as a junior, played just two games this year due to injury. He had eight tackles and one sack. As a junior, he had 36 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
Coleman rushed for 23 touchdowns the last two seasons, while also being one of the top linebackers in the area.
After being second team All-MVL as a junior, he was All-MVL this year, MVL Offensive Player of the Year, D-II All-Southwest District and second team All-Ohio.
As a junior, despite being slowed by a back injury, he rushed for 767 yards on 199 carries and scored 12 touchdowns. On defense, he had 46 tackles, two sacks and an interception.
This past season, he rushed for 592 yards and 11 touchdowns on 77 carries. On defense, he had 43 tackles, two sacks, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and two interceptions.
“You have the offensive and defensive players of the year (in the Miami Valley League),” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “And you have guy that was the workhorse on our defensive line the last three years. These are three very talented players.”
But, they are more than just that.
“These guys were good on and off the field,” Nees said. “They found a way to get the guys around them to play better. They were leaders and everyone of them’s college choice was right for them for different reasons.”
Lewis, the grandson of Charles and Alta Marrs, will play for Fordham University in New York City.
“I liked it for the opportunity to get an education,” Lewis said about the D-I program. “And then, they offered me an athletic scholarship.”
Ironically, football wasn’t his main sport in his early years.
“When I was younger, baseball was my sport,” he said. “It wasn’t until I got in high school that I started thinking about football in college.”
Lewis is as high-energy as they come and that will serve him well at the next level.
“They have already talked to me about that (making an impact right away),” Lewis said. “I think my drive and work ethic will give me an advantage.”
He will play a little different position at Fordham.
“They want me to play the 3-technique,” Lewis said. “That is something I did all the time in the summer.”
Nees said Fordham is a good fit for Lewis.
“It is unfortunate they didn’t get to make many visits because of what is going on,” Nees said. “But, Jerell knows about Fordham. It is a small campus in a big city. So, he is getting the best of both worlds.”
Reaves-Hicks. the son of Darnell and Larissa Hicks, helped Piqua to a big win over Troy to start the season, before missing most of the year with an injury.
Reaves-Hicks will be a defensive tackle and hopes to make an impact right away.
“Of course,” he said. “That is always the goal. I always knew I wanted to play college football”
But, he also understands what his college choice is all about, playing in the Ivy League.
“Even if football doesn’t work out, I will be able to get a great education,” he said. “Princeton will allow me to become the man I want to be and the education I get there will allow me to take care of my family.”
Nees feels like Princeton is an ideal fit for Reaves-Hicks.
“Lance (Reaves-Hicks) will be very comfortable on the Princeton campus and being in an academic environment like that. Everyone would like to have an opportunity like that.”
The son of Don Coleman and Dawn Lyttle, Coleman was a standout on both sides of the ball in high school and has narrowed down where he will play for the University of Dayton.
“I am not sure yet,” the running back/linebacker said. “I don’t know if it will be offense or defense.”
Coleman said the choice of Dayton was an easy one.
“I liked it there and really they were the ones that showed the most interest in me,” Coleman said. “It is (exciting to make it official). College football was always the goal.”
He knows he has a lot of hard work ahead.
“It is kind of tough at the college level to go in and play right away,” he said. “I will work hard and see what happens.”
Nees said Dayton was a great choice by Coleman.
“It is one of only two D-I AA schools in the state of Ohio,” Nees said. “It is a place close to home where his family can watch him play. We have two assistant coaches who played there. We will get see him play the most (in college).”
In the end, Nees knows it is three quality people moving on to the next level.
“I think people were amazed just how good Ca’ron (Coleman) was this year,” Nees said. “Jerell (Lewis) is versatile enough to help us on offense as well and Lance (Reaves-Hicks) is a good enough athlete to also be a standout wrestler. They are three great kids.”
Which made for a special day in Garbry Gymnasium.