Chippewa Valley LB Marcel Lewis wins inaugural State Champs! Michigan High School Football Anvil Award
SOUTHFIELD — If he’d had his druthers, a young Marcel Lewis would’ve grown up to be the next Peyton Manning.
Instead, he grew up to be the guy that makes guys like Peyton Manning nervous.
Now a 6-foot-1, 205-pound wrecking ball at linebacker for just-crowned Division 1 state champion Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, Lewis’ love affair with football got its start the way it does for many kids: watching with his dad.
“Ever since I was young, I started off watching football. We just would sit on the couch and watch Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football. That’s how I started,” Lewis said. “I really loved Peyton Manning. My dad, my mom, my family, we were all big Peyton Manning fans.”
So why wasn’t it Lewis under center, leading the Big Reds’ offense to a victory over Clarkston on Saturday, rather than teammate Tommy Schuster?
Because he figured out a long time ago that he was better being the windshield, rather than the bug.
“I just love hitting offensive guys. That’s the better way to go,” Lewis said with a chuckle, admitting he did dabble at quarterback a bit when he was younger. “I would have to say it was Little League, and I just hear the crowd go ‘Oooohhhh …’ after I hit him. After that feeling, it was just like ‘Yeah, this is my position.’”
Lewis capped his senior season with the ultimate team honor, winning the Big Reds’ first state title since 2001 on Saturday.
Three days later, he picked up some individual hardware.
Lewis was named the winner of the inaugural Anvil Award, given out by State Champs Network to the best high school lineman — offensive or defensive — or linebacker in the state.
Former Novi Detroit Catholic Central and University of Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin presented Lewis with the award, and was happy to see the guys in the trenches get their chance to shine — and perhaps a little envious that the award didn’t exist when he graduated in 2007.
“It just puts a smile on my face,” Martin said. “I wish I could’ve won it when I was (in high school.) Maybe we could take a piece of paper and etch down that I would’ve won it.”
River Rouge defensive end Ruke Orhorhoro (Clemson), Muskegon offensive tackle Anthony Bradford (LSU) and West Bloomfield linebacker Lance Dixon (Penn State) were the other three finalists for the award. Zeeland East defensive end Adam Berghorst (MSU), Flint Carman Ainsworth defensive end Michael Fletcher (MSU), Paw Paw offensive tackle Karsen Barnhart (Michigan), Belleville offensive tackle Devontae Dobbs (MSU), East Kentwood offensive tackle Logan Brown (Wisconsin) and Oak Park offensive tackle Justin Rogers were the other candidates.
“It’s an honor. It really is. All the guys you just listed, they’re all going everywhere, and they’re all great players. I’m just honored,” Lewis said. “I feel like it only makes me work harder. It’ll motivate me to keep working hard, keep working out, just keep pushing.”
Lewis is bound for Michigan State, as well, in large part because he admired the family atmosphere on the Spartan squad that so closely resembled what he was used to at Chippewa Valley.
“It’s funny you said that, because our motto was brotherhood, and we always live by that. That’s part of the reason I committed to Michigan State. I could just tell the brotherhood from there,” Lewis said. “I think it was when I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I always said it was this feeling that I had, it just never went away. It was just something about Michigan State that I knew that was the place for me.”
Lewis had four tackles, one for loss, in the state title game, giving him 76 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and an interception as a senior on defense. For his career, he had 229 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two interceptions.
He might not have been the quarterback, but he did impact the Big Reds offense at tight end, as well, catching 13 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns, grabbing two catches in the title game.
“When I was young, I played both ways, offense, defense — anything they want me to play, I’ll play it,” Lewis said, admitting the win over Macomb Dakota — where he caught a 22-yard touchdown pass in a 51-10 win — might be his favorite high school football memory, aside from the title game. “Those are our rivals, and every time we play them — it’s like Michigan-Michigan State. That’s same resemblance. And just to get a win, and blow them out. It’s crazy.”
The state title game will take up a good share of his memory banks, though, especially those emotions that overwhelmed the Big Reds, after they realized they’d stopped Clarkston’s 2-point conversion attempt.
“When I went in to the locker room, I think I bawled my eyes out. I started crying, realizing we just won this accomplishment, and we’d started from Day 1 saying we wanted a state championship. We actually won it. It was a blessing,” Lewis said. “It meant everything. That was our ultimate goal from the beginning. We wanted a state championship. It’s just crazy that now we’ve won the state championship.”