Darius Lewis returns to Carlstad, his “new home” in Europe

On October 24, as the clock showed all zeros, Sweden’s Carlstad Crusaders stormed their home field embracing each other after winning the 2020 Swedish Championship, their first since 2017 and ninth overall!

The victory was a huge one for the club as they finally knocked off the back-to-back and defending champions, the Stockholm Mean Machines and returned the championship trophy to Carlstad where it had “resided” for eight straight years before Stockholm won it in 2018.

One of the stars of this championship game was defensive back Darius Lewis who finished the game with five tackles and a clutch sack, helping hold the high-powered Stockholm offense to only 12 points in the victory.

Carlstad Crusaders head coach Billy BD Kennedy on Lewis’s performance:

“Darius is a player that can make plays all over the field. He is also a superb tackler. He did a great job for us on defense and was also extremely effective on our special teams as a return man. I think he is an excellent player. He can play just about anywhere.”

 

Darius Lewis hauling down Stockholm Mean Machines QB Timothy Morovick Photo: Jonas Domfors

Lewis finished the pandemic shortened season with 24.5 tackles 4 tackles for a loss and a interception in only eight games. The versatile Gaithersburg, Maryland native was also the teams punt returner. The 26-year-old is no stranger to championships as the Swedish title is one of four championships he has been a part of in Europe. His first championship came in 2017 as part of the Straubing Spiders in Germany, as he led the Bavarian squad to a 3rd division title. The next year, Lewis was celebrating another championship this time in Hungary as part of the Budapest Wolves. After only two years in Europe, Lewis had already collected two championships in two different countries.

“Then in Budapest, it was a chance to prove to European spectators that it wasn’t fluke.”

In 2019, the 5’10 defensive back continued to win as he joined the Koc Rams of Turkey. As part of Turkey’s most successful football programs, Lewis and the Rams won the Turkish university league title. Lewis remained busy that year as he joined the Uzgorod Lumberjacks in the Ukraine for the end of their season, before returning to Germany with the Albershausen Crusaders. For his second stint in Germany, Lewis lined up at running back helping the Albershausen capture their region’s championship.

Before he was counting his rings in Europe, Lewis had a stellar college career and then almost found his way to Australia. He played junior college football at Fullerton College across the country in California, hoping to get a chance to play for college football at a higher level.

“I first went to a D2 in west Virginia, and my coaches there convinced me to go Juco. They believed  I needed to be at a better level and said Juco will take me there. I moved to California. Fullerton College was great and we made it to the national championship game before losing. That helped me get a full ride from Northern Arizona University.”

 

Darius Lewis (8) in action with Hungary’s Budapest Wolves Photo: Francesco’s Sports

It didn’t take long for Lewis to make an impact for the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks squad as he made all conference his first year on campus. After two seasons and 117 tackles, Lewis’s college career was done. But the former Fullerton College Hornet once again had his sights set on more. Lewis signed to play in Australia’s National Gridiron League. The new league down under ultimately never materialized and Lewis made his way to Europe, launching his international football journey.

“ I signed with the NGL in Australia and put all of my eggs in that basket. The basket had a huge hole in the bottom. After the failing of the NGL, Straubing was the first to reach out and I did not hesitate. I told friends and family, wherever I go, I refuse to come back without a championship. I feared leaving a place I called home for a season that proved unproductive.”

The 2020 Swedish Champion Carlstad Crusaders announced they had re-signed Lewis for the upcoming 2021 season. Lewis commented on coming back to his new home in Sweden, while hinting at a possible domestic and international championship run for Carlstad.

“This is currently where I call home. During a pandemic, Sweden has proved to be safe in regard to being able to compete and finish a season. We started something, and now we must finish what we started. Swedish championship was half of it. European is the other half.”

Lewis and his Crusaders will no doubt be looking to repeat as champions in Sweden’s Superserien.

Photos: Jonas Domfors, Francesco’s Sports

 

 

 

 

Alex Malchow
Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football stories from across the globe.
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