Joining the FCF, Caleb Lewis needs fans’ help to shine

Caleb+Lewis+is+set+to+join+the+FCF+before+he+heads+to+Albuquerque+to+play+in+the+IFL.+Photo+Credit%3A+David+Auth

Caleb Lewis is set to join the FCF before he heads to Albuquerque to play in the IFL. Photo Credit: David Auth

By Tyler Gallo, Copy Editor

Before he returns to the Indoor Football League (IFL) to play with the Duke City Gladiators, former Colonials quarterback Caleb Lewis is set to join the Fan Controlled Football (FCF) league– and needs fans’ help to shine.

Lewis started his collegiate career at Louisiana State University (LSU), choosing the Tigers, who were his favorite team growing up, over several other schools, including Ohio, Buffalo, and Florida International.

Lewis during his time at LSU. Photo Credit: LSU Athletics

Ed Orgeron started his tenure as LSU head coach in 2016 after spending two seasons as the defensive line coach, which happened to be around the time Lewis attended LSU. Learning under Orgeron and the offensive coordinators was a great experience, and the passion of Orgeron was unmatched.

“Coach O was passionate, and while there were a few different coordinators when I was there, learning under Matt Canada was great,” Lewis said. “Under him, there were a lot of shifts, motions, and jet-sweeps. There were three different coordinators during my time there, which helped me learn the game even more and adjust to new systems.”

Lewis put in a lot of hard work during his time as a Tiger and set a goal to receive a scholarship from LSU during his third season, and was surprised by Orgeron during that summer with one. For Lewis, it was a dream come true and a goal reached.

“It was a two-part realization for me,” he said. “The first being that it was a goal I had set for myself during that summer. I knew I had put enough work in and that I earned it. The second part was that I was in ecstasy, especially being able to call my parents and tell them about it.”

While the left-handed Lewis played as a reserve quarterback during his time as a Tiger, he still called signals and traveled with the team. He got into a game on November 25, 2017, taking two kneels in victory formation to seal a Tigers 45-21 win over Texas A&M. While he was in for a short time to close the game, Lewis treasures that moment.

“It was really cool seeing how excited my teammates were for me,” Lewis said. “Even though it was a simple [kneel], I can say that I took a snap at Tiger Stadium which not many people can say.”

After he graduated from LSU, Lewis was not finished in college, grad-transferring to Robert Morris. Coach Bernard Clark, who was slated to join RMU from Albany at the time, recruited him heavily, and Lewis believes that the rapport he built with Clark was the main reason he came to RMU.

Caleb Lewis is set to join the FCF before he heads to Albuquerque to play in the IFL. Photo Credit: Sam Anthony

“I never came to visit RMU before I played there, but I really liked how [Clark] recruited me while he was at Albany,” Lewis said. “I gravitated towards that energy and the work ethic Coach Clark preached. I came to RMU because of the trust he had built with me and the belief that he was going to grow the program, which he did in those two years.”

Clark has grown the program exponentially since joining in 2018, transforming the Colonials from a lowly bottom-feeding NEC team under John Banaszak to second-place in the conference and losing just one conference game in 2019. The team buying into Clark’s process was the most instrumental aspect of the program’s success from 2018-19.

“The team buying into the work ethic, and the standards set by both Clark and Coach Day were huge [for the team’s success],” Lewis said. “They taught us how to be tough both mentally and physically. A team can have the best coaches in the world, but if the team doesn’t buy-in, it will not work.”

Photo Credit: David Auth

Lewis notched his first collegiate start and win in the same game at Virginia Military Institute on September 21, 2019. Lewis was instrumental in snapping Robert Morris’ 21-game road losing streak, completing 12-of-17 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown as RMU knocked off the Keydets 31-21. This was one of Lewis’s favorite moments at RMU.

“Getting my first true collegiate start was incredible,” Lewis said. “Getting that first road win in so long and to see all our work come together and accomplish something special was great. I think that game was a [precursor] to our NEC play as well.”

Lewis was at the helm for another RMU first, their first win in conference play after 14 consecutive losses, this time coming in relief of George Martin in a 20-17 overtime thriller over Saint Francis. Getting in the mindset of coming in late to a game and following Coach Clark’s sentiments were important for success in that game.

“Coach Clark told me to take it one play, one down at a time, especially being behind in the game,” Lewis said. “We just needed to execute. Our end-goal was winning the game. The guys were making incredible plays for me, especially [Matt] Gonzalez on that catch to send it to overtime. As a quarterback, you never want to be losing, but coming back in those situations is what makes the greats great.”

Lewis graduated from RMU last season and signed with the Quad City Steamwheelers of the IFL, transitioning into the much smaller field of play in indoor football. The team got one game in before the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the country, and Lewis was lucky enough to play in that game, coming in late in the fourth quarter and replacing E.J. Hilliard, finishing a perfect 1-1 passing in their 54-39 victory over the Cedar Rapids River Kings. He even had a quarterback sneak touchdown of his own get called back. Preparing for indoor football was something he always had in the back of his mind.

Caleb Lewis with the Steamwheelers in 2020.

“I always wanted to play indoor football, I loved the AFL as a kid,” Lewis said. “The craziest thing [to prepare for] was probably the speed of the game. It moved so fast. Learning the game differently was a great experience.”

While losing the season due to COVID-19 was tough, it provided a chance for Lewis to step off the field and onto the sidelines and help his father coach high school football in Florida. For Lewis, this helped him appreciate the game more.

“COVID was tough on everyone, but my family stayed healthy which I am extremely grateful for,” Lewis said. “It was a season of reflection and truly learning how to work. Had I not been training and helping out my dad with coaching, I probably would not have been ready for this opportunity in the FCF. It felt like my life got put on pause for a year, but I have to keep pushing forward.”

Lewis was set to return to Quad City, but a lack of concrete notice from the owner due to the pandemic ended that marriage. In December, Lewis signed with another IFL team, inking a deal with the Duke City Gladiators. The strong coaching staff and the hype surrounding Duke City coming from the CIF was an important factor in Lewis signing his deal.

“Coach Martino [Theus] and general manager Matt Avila were honest with me about what my role was going to be coming in,” Lewis said. “I am playing behind Nate Davis, who played in the NFL, and he is a tremendous quarterback to learn under as they try to develop me to try and come back next season as the main quarterback. They reached out, gave me a home when I didn’t have one, so I am deeply appreciative of that. [Bottom line], it was another opportunity to play football. They have a championship mindset after coming over from the CIF, so they stood out to me.”

While he is signed to the IFL, Lewis will also be joining the brand-new FCF league, and the name is self-explanatory. Fans control every aspect of the game, including the rosters, playcalling, formations, and almost anything one can think of. The league has a bubble in Atlanta and Lewis is excited to get started.

“Fans get to interact, they get to call plays, and overall be involved,” Lewis said. “It’s like playing Madden but with real players. We’re all still learning the rules, but it’s going to be fast-paced. The craziest part, for me, is that I could be on one team one week and be on a different team the next week.”

One special aspect of the league for Lewis is that players can pick what goes on their jerseys, and he has decided that his personal mantra of, “Push The Rock,” will go on the back of his jersey. While the motto can be linked to the Greek myth of Sisyphus, who had to push a rock up a hill every day only for it to roll back down, a former coach of his changed the story.

“It’s about dedication and hard work,” Lewis said. “A high school coach of mine changed the Greek myth around and said that there was a kid who had to push a rock and was unable to day after day, but the day he needed it to move, he was able to. It is all about working every day, even if you do not feel that you are.”

Lewis is set to join the brand-new league soon as the league prepares for its season in the coming months. To help Caleb out, fans can go to this link and join a team to get prepared for when the “fan-controlled” aspect starts.

You can follow Caleb on Twitter (@calebthefella) and the FCF (@fcflio) and view the full interview at this link.