WARRENTON - It's like a dream come true.
That's how Jonathan Lewis, a recent graduate of Warren County High School, describes getting an opportunity to play college football.
The 18-year-old Warrenton resident, son of Carey and Virginia Lewis, signed with North Carolina Preparation Christian Academy in Charlotte during a special ceremony held in the school media center on Monday.
"I always wanted to go off and play college football," said Lewis, who played football and basketball for four years while playing for the WCHS Screaming Devils. "I've got a lot of people helping me and wanting me to do well. I can't let them down and I can't let myself down either."
Lewis was one of the star football players for the Screaming Devils having played on the defensive line his first two years and then as an offensive lineman and middle linebacker his junior and senior years.
The 6-2, 260-lb., Lewis is expected to play middle linebacker for the Tigers.
"He's going to be hard to replace," said new WCHS Head Coach Marleau Blount. "He's a perfect high school athlete. He's very coach-able. He always gives his all. This is a great opportunity for him."
Coach Blount said he had known Lewis since he played football with the local recreation department and that he always knew that he would someday become a star athlete.
Life for Lewis hasn't always been easy.
In fact, it's been anything but easy.
In the summer of his rising sophomore season, his mother suffered a stroke, leaving her paralyzed. She was forced to move in with her daughter, Jennifer Burnett, who lives in Thomson, so that she could receive the help that she needs daily. Lewis stayed with his father, who works at Georgia Pacific in Warrenton.
Lewis admitted that life without his mother being around all of the time took a lot of adjustment.
Instead of his mother washing and ironing his clothes, as well as cooking for the family, learning and doing those chores quickly became a way of life for him.
"It hasn't always been easy for him," said Coach Blount. "I think athletics became a refuge for him. He learned at 14 or 15 how to be responsible - something a lot of adults don't even do. And when he got a little behind in his school work, a lot of us reached out and helped him. We were glad to do that for him and would for anybody who showed they were trying."
Lewis hopes to become a physical education teacher and football coach someday. He said he'd like to someday return to Warren County High School to give back some of the things he has been given by administrators, teachers and coaches.
"I'd love to come back here and be a teacher and coach one day," said Lewis.