FOOTBALL: Current NFL player brings his friends … It’s a “family,” says current Broncos coach … Banning High assistant coaches named … Lewis gets second year as school A.D. … Next year’s clinic might be even bigger.

For a second straight summertime Saturday, July 14, 2018, Qua’Sand Lewis, Jr. was overlooking a huge influx of youthful football players. Over 300 showed up on a big day for the sport.

Derron Smith, the Banning High Hall of Famer, is about to leave for training camp with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Hoping to make their roster as a free safety, the reconstructing Browns are trying hard to become highly competitive.

First up, though, was his second annual clinic.

“I’m very proud of Derron,” said Lewis, “for staying consistent (to this clinic). I wish him well this year.”

For openers, said Lewis, “this is the kind of thing that brings everyone together. I’m telling everyone to make sure their (football-playing) kid to Banning. I think we’ve done a great job of keeping our players.”

The Smith clinic doesn’t hurt.

It’s a one-day event that probably has months-long impact on the city’s football program — both Little Broncos’ Junior All-American, plus a growing high school program.

For the third straight summer, Smith was in the middle of local youth football players for his second clinic. Surrounded by plenty of his NFL cohorts, Smith tended to a group between first and eighth grades.

“People are probably tired of hearing me say this,” said Lewis, “but I believe in family … in common goals. It shows everyone in the community that we can do things together.”

The growth may already be felt in Banning’s football program. It’s possible that over 100 players will be in uniform this season. Lewis might be expecting 35 to 40 players on each level — Varsity, Junior Varsity and Freshmen.

Underlying that achievement may well be Smith’s “clinic” involvement. Loads of out-of-towners showed up alongside the locals.

SMITH CLINIC AIDING BANNING RESURGENCE

“There (were) about 10 NFL players out there,” said Lewis, who has just been retained for a second year as Banning High School’s athletic director — a huge move for the campus.

In one of the biggest changes between the football’s first and second seasons, more coaches have been added.

Lewis’ influence is being felt in organizing a larger coaching staff.

Banning’s coaches:

Sam Aguilar - JV, offensive coordinator.

Frank Tavarez - Offensive line, assistant head coach

Nelson McLintock - Linebackers, punt return, “dog”

Ridge Turner - Varsity defensive backs, QB coach, kick return

Michael McDowell - Wide receivers, kickoffs

Nathan Merrill - Defensive coach

Lyle Pauga - JV coach

There are, noted Lewis, two more coaches that haven’t been named, awaiting district clearance.

“I did a lot of begging and pleading,” Lewis said. “(Human Resources) did a great job in working with us this year. We’re all compromising in some ways to make this work.”

Last Saturday, Lewis’ compromise was simple.

At 5:30 a.m., he showed up to open the stadium. Setting up for over 300 little football players isn’t easy. Equipment and water. Tables and chairs. Gates open. Locker rooms available. You name it.

By noon, just after the clinic’s conclusion, Lewis was transporting 42 football players to Temecula for a series of four 7-on-7 passing games — winning two, plus losing on last-play efforts to both Corona and Riverside Ramona.

There was a pizza stop on the way back. Lewis’ day ended around 10 p.m. 

That Smith clinic, though, was a huge addition to Banning’s foothold on football.

Here’s the theme: More kids. More parents. More coaches. More NFL players. More hope for Banning football. 

“Our coaches (were) all over the place,” he said, “at the (Smith) clinic.”

Playing to that “family” theme, Lewis noted the groups — the youths, his high school players assisting, Banning’s assistant coaches, plus the NFL and ex-college players coming together — “with one common goal.

“Everybody learned from each other,” Lewis said.

Imagine such a scene … inside the Banning High football stadium.

Smith never played in that stadium, incidentally. Just missed, in fact. He was long gone — to Fresno State — by the time this stadium had been constructed. In his day, Smith played on the other side of Interstate 10 — in old, rickety, regular turf Nicolet Stadium.

It’s where the Banning Junior All-American Football players take the field for their home games.

It’s also from where Lewis is hoping to land most of those players to that sparkling, still-new, stadium. It’s off the charts that he’s being brought back as the school’s A.D. for a second year. In recent years, it’s been a new-A.D.-a-year type of scene.

School management could be improving, though it’s asking a lot of this young man. Head football coach and athletics director? Not many school districts ask one person to do both.

Lewis could be at the heart of the school district’s rise in prominence.

The message is loud and clear, he said. “We are family oriented.”

On a side note, he said, “It was good to see so many parents at Temecula.”

It was good football vibes at both spots — Banning and Temecula.

“I think it helped our freshmen the most,” said Lewis. “I think it opened their eyes in what’s possible for them here. They assisted in the clinic. They were right up close to those NFL guys.”

Next year’s clinic, said Lewis, “I think will be even bigger.”

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