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MSA is proud to launch a new Q&A series called ‘Inside the Helmet,’ where we’ll be taking you beyond the gridiron and inside the minds of some of the top high school football players around Maryland and D.C.
This week, I had the chance to interview Dunbar dual-threat quarterback Jared Lewis, a rising senior who compiled 2,669 total yards and 25 total touchdowns in 12 games last year for the Poets. Dunbar, which went 9-4 last season, lost in the Class 2A state semifinal game to Walkersville, 12-7, the eventual 2A state champion in 2016.
This year, Dunbar returns a bevy of impact players and moves down to Class 1A. With Lewis at the helm, the Poets enter the 2017 season as a legitimate state title contender and could dethrone Fort Hill, which has won four-straight Class 1A state championships.
Question: When and how did you get into football?
Answer: I believe I was 5-years-old when I started, around that age. My dad used to take me out for practice. One day, he just asked me, “Do you want to start playing?” And then it went from there.
Q: Have you always been a quarterback?
A: No. First I started playing at wide receiver, and my dad, he moved me to quarterback because he was my coach. He wanted me to call the shots, I guess. I’ve been playing quarterback since I was like 6 or 5.
Q: How much of your success is based on natural ability and how much has come from working at it?
A: I would say I believe I have God-given talent. I have some of that. But with my God-given talent, I put in work on and off the field — like weight training, conditioning and field work. So, I would say working at it with my God-given talent.
Q: Is there a quarterback you like to imitate or mold your game after? Like at the college or professional level? Or just an all-time favorite player you look up to?
A: I would say, in the NFL, I look up to Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers.
Q: Why Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers?
A: Well, Aaron Rodgers, I just like how he plays the game. He’s relaxed and cool and he’s really accurate. He doesn’t get rattled. And I like how Cam Newton plays with confidence, and he’s fearless. He just goes out there and plays.
Q: Do you have some hobbies you partake in off the football field or any other talents?
A: Yeah, I actually play basketball. That’s one of my talents. I also like to hangout with my friends, play some video games.
Q: If there was one NFL or college coach you’d want to be coached by, who would that be and why?
A: Hmmm. … What would I say? … [Pittsburgh Steelers head coach] Mike Tomlin.
Q: Oh yeah, Mike Tomlin?
A: Yeah. The way I see it, I love the way he coaches. He has knowledge, knows the players well and pushes them. I think he’s just a smart coach. I like the way he coaches. I’ve watched him since I was young.
Q: What is one thing you’d like to improve about yourself? It can be anything.
A: I would say improving my speed because, I mean, I would say I know how to run, but if I improve my speed, it makes me more dangerous. It makes me more dangerous for the defense when I’m on the field. It gives me another threat on the field.
Q: If you were to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, what sport would you choose and why?
A: I would say skiing. I’ve always wanted to try that. It looks fun.
Q: What’s your go-to hydration beverage on the sideline? Are you a Gatorade or Powerade kind of guy? Do you just roll with water? Maybe something else?
A: Eh, I like Gatorade and water, and sometimes Powerade.
Q: From my perspective, at least, there’s a lot of hype surrounding Dunbar football. As the quarterback, how have you handled that and how will continue to handle that in the upcoming weeks?
A: How I handle that, it really doesn’t bother me. I still put in the same work. My team still puts in the same work. This summer, we worked hard and prepared for the season. We think we’re going to have a productive season. I believe everybody is humble on our team, and just ready to compete; try to win another [state championship].
Q: What are your expectations for this season and then what are your team’s expectations?
A: For personal goals, the first one is to, every game, give it my all; make sure I do whatever it is to help the team win. Then, I would like to throw [for over] 30 touchdowns and run for at least 10 [touchdowns] and 3,000 [total] yards. As for my team, we want to come out and win every game. Last year, we lost in the state semifinals. This year, we want to go out and win a state championship.
Q: Speaking of last year, how would you describe the 2016 season? You came one win shy of a state championship appearance, losing a heartbreaker to eventual Class 2A state champion Walkersville, 12-7. How would you describe that experience?
A: I believe we had a great season last year. We just came up short at the end. It was a tough loss. We fought hard and played [Walkersville] tough all the way to the end. It was a dagger of a loss, but I believe with the work we put in the offseason we are going to bounce back strong this year. I believe we are going to win it all this year.
Q: Have you ever thought about what you want to do after football?
A: I want to go on and play in college. And then wherever college takes me from there, if the [NFL] doesn’t work out, I want to major in business and coding. I have some colleges looking at me. I just want to focus on this season right here; it’s an important one. I really need to have a productive season.