Seniors overcome injuries to go out on football field
Domonique Lewis had big plans for his final college football season, so the Colorado Mesa University senior worked harder than ever to prepare.
He had several goals, but they were turned upside down when he pulled his right hamstring on the third day of camp this summer, then re-aggravated it during the first week of September, setting him back five more weeks.
Lewis missed the first six games of the season.
“This season has been the hardest I’ve ever had,” the defensive end said. “I’ve never trained so hard in the summer. I was in the best shape I’ve ever been. To have it go to waste the first week of camp was heartbreaking. I got super down, but my teammates kept me up (along) with friends and family. I’m just happy I salvaged something out of this season. I didn’t know how many games I was going to get.”
It wasn’t exactly a healthy season for Mesa’s other senior defensive end, Justin Brown, also known as “Chooch,” because the way he plays reminded the previous coaching staff of a choo-choo train.
Brown broke his right hand in the fourth game of the season and has had a cast on it since then. He sprained an ankle three weeks ago and saw limited action against CSU-Pueblo the following week.
“Chooch is my boy,” Lewis said. “We’ve both been through a lot together the last couple years. He’s always had the best attitude. All the kid wants to do is win. I have nothing but respect for him. He’s won at every level. That’s rubbed off on me and pushed me.”
Dane Amacher, another senior defensive end, injured a knee the in the fifth game of the season, ending his career.
“For a lot of those guys, it’s been disappointing,” CMU defensive coordinator Todd Auer said.
“When you have three starters out most of the year and everybody learning a new system and being thin, it made us really ... I thought we’d be better, but losing those guys hurt.”
Senior running back Thomas Sua had his career cut short when he injured his neck in the Mavericks’ fourth game of the season.
“I feel lucky they found it before it could’ve been worse,” Sua said.
Sua said he had neck injuries in the past, but this particular injury was different.
“I felt my back lock up,” he said. “There’s a difference between pain and something that’s not right. The doctor talked with five spine surgeons and asked, ‘If I was their son, would you let me play?’ and they all said, ‘No.’
“I have no regrets. I accomplished a lot.”
The junior college transfer rushed for 197 yards in two seasons at Mesa.
Lewis and Brown are relatively healthy now and likely will play their final organized football game of their lives Saturday when the Mavericks close out the season against Adams State in Alamosa. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
“It’s pretty wild,” Brown said. “I’ve been playing for 14 years. It’s finally coming to an end.
“I want to go out on top and get the last win. If we do, we finish fourth, which isn’t bad. The RMAC is strong this year.”
Although Brown and Lewis had bigger aspirations, they enjoyed their experiences at Mesa.
“It’s been amazing,” Lewis said. “In my senior speech (last week) I told the guys, I knew this place was special.
“When I got here, even when I was over at Utah, I knew this was the place to be. This group of guys made my years here some of the best I’ve ever had.”
“It’s crazy,” Brown said. “The school has gotten a lot bigger. This program is special. I wish I had a couple more years to see it through and win a (conference) championship.”
Lewis has 164 tackles, including 38.5 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks, in his career. He tied a school record with four forced fumbles in a season.
Brown has 53 tackles, including 13 for a loss and 2.5 sacks, in his career. He needs three tackles for a single-season personal best.
“I want to keep playing as long as I can, whether its the AFL, CFL or whatever,” Lewis said.
When he’s finished playing, Lewis, who graduates in December, plans to go into sports journalism and hopes to be a TV sports anchor.