Leave it to Tristan Lewis to revive what was once thought to be a dying breed.
As a three-year letterman for the Beaverton boys soccer team, Lewis was always eager to know what it would be like to put on the pads every Friday night and play football for the Beavers. But as a varsity soccer athlete manning the midfielder and occasionally moving up to play forward, the senior had a full plate already. Plus, for whatever reason, high school football coaches stopped pilfering soccer players from the pitch to stand in as their place kickers on the gridiron. Perhaps it was the time restraints or practice restrictions or the stigma of having a soccer player on the football team. What was once a normal passage became a dried up well. Qualified soccer players who could dabble as moonlighting stand-ins were defunct.
Lewis, however, was undeterred. Last summer, the right-footed soccer player approached Beaverton head football coach Bob Boyer about coming on to the squad and trying his hand on kickoffs, points after touchdowns and field goals. Confident in his ability to drill the pigskin and follow in the footsteps of Cole Cooper, who was heralded for his penchant for touchbacks off the tee and clutch kicks, Lewis told Boyer he was up for the double duty and promised to dedicate the necessary time to become a high-quality player, someone who could be relied on.
A de facto "tryout" was held. Lewis proved he was a quick study. And all of a sudden, Beaverton had found its kicker.
"I was always a soccer guy, but then I realized I could realistically play both, so I took my shot," Lewis.
Lewis wasn't your stereotypical kicker — the one who shows up for 30 minutes of football practice, lounges around on the tackling dummies, kicks a couple of balls and bolts for home.
Football practice was right after school every day, so Lewis would join the team, take part in a couple of tackling drills just in case he was the last line of defense on a kick return or a blocked kick and get in his allotted practice kicks. Lewis was accepted because he put in the work alongside his football teammates.
"I felt like I was part of the team instantly," Lewis said. "I got very emotionally invested into the team. I knew a lot of the guys prior to joining the team. And the other guys accepted me. I'd hop into (defensive back) training just for fun and run a couple of routes (with the wide receivers). The coaches thought that was funny."
Then, as the football team would leave for the night, Lewis would stay as soccer practice got underway that evening.
"It was extremely stressful and tiring," Lewis said with a laugh. "I didn't kick the whole practice, but I hung out with the guys and hop in some catching drills to have some fun. The days were long, but it was a lot of fun. I had a great time."
The senior special teams star enjoyed some huge moments of success on the gridiron throughout the year. In Beaverton's second non-league game of the season against Lake Oswego, with the Beavers trailing 26-25 with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Lewis blasted an onside kick attempt into the ground that took a funky bounce and landed in the arms of Beaver senior wide receiver Kenny Ervin, breathing even more life into an eagerly confident squad.
Four plays later Beaverton put the ball in the hands of quarterback senior Carson Crawford who came through in the clutch, scoring on a quarterback keeper to give Beaverton its first win of the season. At the time, Crawford said Lewis' kick was "the best" he'd ever seen in his life, especially for a first-year player.
"You just have to smash it into the ground, basically," Lewis said. "I was ecstatic. And then to go on and score the (game-tying) touchdown and win the game felt amazing."
Later on in the season, Lewis made an important 40-yard field goal against Westview in a key Metro League showdown that helped Beaverton escape with a 17-14 victory.
"I had a rocky start that game and missed a couple, but I made the one that counted," Lewis said with a smile.
Lewis was named first-team all-Metro place kicker and second-team all-league punter.
Lewis is continuing his kicking career at the collegiate level as well. Next year he'll suit up for the College of the Siskiyous with the hope of transferring to a four-year university after one season at the junior college level.
Lewis will punt for the Eagles, too. And there's a good chance Lewis will be able to again play both sports, as the COTS soccer coach extended an offer to join his squad.