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Penns Grove vs. Willingboro: Kavon Lewis plans 'to go out with a bang’ in his final game as Red Devils quarterback

The senior quarterback's 69 career touchdown passes rank first on Penns Grove's all-time list.

Penns Grove's Kavon Lewis has been battling a foot injury throughout the Red Devils' undefeated season.
Penns Grove's Kavon Lewis has been battling a foot injury throughout the Red Devils' undefeated season.Read moreTim Tai / Staff Photographer

It was as if Kavon Lewis had already seen the play happen.

Before Penns Grove kicked off against Schalick in October, Lewis told junior wideout Jymir Gilliam that he would catch the touchdown pass that would pencil Lewis into the Red Devils’ record book.

“Once that play got called, I was like, ‘This is it,’ ” the senior quarterback said.

The play?

A 50-yard bomb to Gilliam from Lewis, his 63rd career touchdown pass, which ranked him first all-time at Penns Grove. The score broke the record held by Nick Elmer, who went on to wrestle at Drexel.

“I ran up to him, gave him a big hug," Lewis said. "He hugged me back, and it was a joy from there.”

Lewis has helped lead Penns Grove to 25 straight wins and a 12-0 record this season. He will play his final game in a Red Devils uniform Sunday when Penns Grove faces Willingboro in the Group 1 regional championship game at Rutgers University for the second straight year.

A victory for Lewis and Penns Grove would mark the first time in South Jersey history that a team has posted 13-0 records in back-to-back seasons. The Red Devils beat Willingboro, 35-26, last year to finish the season as the first 13-0 team in South Jersey history.

“That’s the goal for us,” Lewis said. “Just to keep the streak and just keep balling.”

Lewis expects a tough game against the Chimeras after Penns Grove won in comeback fashion in last year’s bowl game at MetLife Stadium. But he said he’s playing his best football after battling a bone bruise in his foot for most of the season.

Lewis is coming off a three-touchdown performance — two passing and one rushing — against Paulsboro in the South Group 1 title game.

Entering the game against Willingboro, Lewis has thrown for 14 touchdowns and 1,089 yards. He has 69 career passing touchdowns and 5,658 yards.

“He could have been a little bit selfish at times with battling injuries, but he sucked it up and did what was best for the team,” Penns Grove coach John Emel said. “When it’s his time to shine, he shined the brightest in our championship against Paulsboro, so I can’t say enough about what that says about him as a kid.”

In the morning of the sectional final against Paulsboro, Lewis said he received a text from his teammate, junior running back Nasir Robinson, that motivated him to set the tone for the Red Devils.

But that’s not the only thing that pushed Lewis to play well in that game. His main fuel for inspiration is his 1-year old son, Kayden, he said. He drives Lewis to be better in the classroom and on the field every day.

Lewis said he plans to play football or basketball at the next level, but he doesn’t have offers from schools in either sport although he’s received interest from Kutztown University in football and Cabrini College in basketball. Lewis plays guard for the Red Devils basketball team, has scored more than 1,000 points scored in his career and averaged 18.8 points per game last year as a junior.

“I know a lot of coaches say I’m too small to play quarterback. But little do they know that I can play anything,” Lewis said. “I can play [defensive back]. I can play wide receiver. Slot. Anything.”

Lewis isn’t exaggerating. He started his career at Penns Grove as a wideout until Emel pitched the idea of playing quarterback.

At the end of Lewis’ freshman year, Emel approached him in the hallway at school and asked if he would be interested in playing quarterback as a sophomore. It caught Lewis off-guard initially, but he accepted Emel’s challenge.

“We had nobody else,” Emel said. “He was the only guy I thought who could do the job, and I wanted to give him an opportunity. He’s a tremendous athlete. He obviously can throw the ball, and I thought he could be good for the program.”

Lewis said it hasn’t sunk in yeet that it’s his last game at Penns Grove, but he added that he’ll be playing like it.

“I got to go out with a bang,” Lewis said. “That’s my goal, to go out with a bang and have fun.”