THESE CHAINS HE WAS PROUD TO BEAR: Veteran Darlington football volunteer will not be on the sidelines anymore


By Will Isgett

Special to the News & Press

Terry Lewis Sr. has been an integral part of the St. John’s High School and Darlington High School football programs for 48 years as one of the most important people on the field. Lewis, who served as a member of the “Chain Gang” and eventually ran the group of individuals on the field, wasn’t asked to return this season. For those who don’t know what the “Chain Gang” is, it is the crew that manages signal poles on one of the sidelines. The chain crew is under the direction of the head linesman/down judge and signals the officials’ decisions. Without the “Chain Gang” a football game wouldn’t even be able to happen; because under the direction of the officials, they are who work the sidelines making sure the down markers are where they are supposed to be. “I was really hurt that after all these years, and me rounding up people to help me, that I wasn’t asked to come back this year,” Lewis said. “I called the school and left messages for the athletic director and got a return call saying that the Darlington High School football coach was making changes, saying that he’s got his own chain crew.” Even with the disappointing news, Lewis still reminisces on the many years of wonderful memories that he had on the sidelines with the St. John’s Blue Devils and the Darlington Falcons. “Way back in 1972 I got asked by L.T. Coker, who ran the chain crew, if I’d like to help out,” Lewis said. “He asked me, would you like to come out and help me with the chains?” Lewis asked him, “What is that?” And the rest was history. Lewis came aboard with long-time “Chain Gang” members Mac Lemmons and Snookie Poe followed by later additions Bobby Knight, Billy Odom and Jeff Kelly. “Sometimes the late Dick McKelvey would help, but when he got mad at a certain play he would throw the stick down and walk out of the stadium,” Lewis said with a laugh. “We always had a good group of guys who got complimented by the officials.” Lewis said back in the St. John’s High School days, the crew even went out to the field and painted the yardage lines and the hash marks. “We were told that the field looked very professional,” Lewis said. Other memories Lewis has is when he just had surgery and went out to a game to work and a player from the opposing team slid across the muddy field, hit him and he went sliding under the bench. He said he got hit but he got right back up. “It’s a hard job if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Lewis said. “You have to stay focused for the entire game.” Lewis also got to witness games on the “Chain Gang” in the 1980s as his son played for the Blue Devils when Gene Stokes was the head coach, Stan Drawdy was the offensive coordinator and Tim Watson was the defensive coordinator. “My son would tell me he could hear me yelling at him from the sidelines,” Lewis said. When Lewis wasn’t working the home games on the sidelines, he followed the teams when they played on the road. “I’ll always remember when former player Brian Scott made an unbelievable catch in Conway when we beat them to win the region championship,” Lewis said. “I was also at Williams-Brice Stadium when that same team played for the state championship against Berkeley High School. I followed them through the good and bad times.”

Author: Stephan Drew

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