Wells has bright future

Published 12:04 am Sunday, October 2, 2011

ACCS’ quarterback Johnny Smith hands the ball to Lester Wells during their game against Centreville Friday night. (Eric Shelton \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — The deer-in-the-headlights look did not last long for Adams County Christian School freshman Lester Wells when he was called up for his first varsity action against Trinity Episcopal Sept. 23.

Wells’ first touch was on a kickoff return, and he said after that he knew he had nothing to be anxious about.

“After my first carry on the kickoff and that first hit, (I wasn’t nervous) anymore,” he said. “They don’t hit that much harder on varsity than JV.”

Wells, 15, went on to lead the Rebels offense in the game against Trinity Sept. 23. He finished the night with 61 yards rushing on 12 carries and also had a 42-yard reception. All of that was done in one half, because MAIS rules prevented Wells from playing the entire game. He had played a full junior varsity game the day before.

“I knew I had to step up my game (when I got to varsity),” Wells said. “It’s going good, you have better blocking and play against better competition. Everything is all good.”

In Friday’s game against Centreville, Wells was even better: He finished with 309 all-purpose yards, including 124 yards rushing and two touchdowns, one of which was a kickoff return for 95 yards. The other one was a long run for 69 yards.

Wells said his biggest strengths are his speed and his vision, but he is still having trouble with fumbles.

“I have to hold the ball higher,” he said. “I was holding it too low. I have to get better ball protection.”

Wells said ACCS head coach Hunter McKeivier made him work on ball security on the weekends by forcing Wells to carry a ball around with him.

“It was all day on weekends,” Wells said.

McKeivier said the varsity coaches were keeping an eye on Wells during junior varsity games to see if he could handle running the ball inside at the varsity level.

“One of the things we wanted to see in JV was how tough he ran between the tackles,” McKeivier said. “He did real well in JV, and he’s doing real well in between the tackles now.”

McKeivier said Wells’ ability to shake off miscues has been key to his development.

“He doesn’t let mistakes bother him. He uses it to make himself better,” McKeivier said.

Wells has also gotten help from senior quarterback Johnny Smith and senior fullback Christopher Perry, he said.

“They told me not to be afraid,” he said.

Wells said he plans to provide leadership for the younger players when he becomes an upperclassman.

“I hope to be a leader for other running backs and teammates,” he said.

McKeivier said coaches began to notice Wells’ potential a couple of years ago.

“In seventh grade he was fifth in the high jump in the state,” McKeivier said. “We knew he had athletic ability, and last year he took off in JV.”

McKeivier said a rash of injuries in the offensive backfield was the reason Wells was brought up to begin with, but he has since found a niche in the Rebels offense.

“We needed more depth,” McKeivier said. “He has great speed and vision, and every running back has a unique style. (Cody) White and (Hunter) Norris are more downhill runners, and Perry is a bull. Lester uses speed and vision, which is a different thing we didn’t have.”

Wells said he hopes to continue to improve this season while also helping ACCS win some games.

“I hope we keep having fun, and do what it takes to win. I want to get better and better every day,” he said.

McKeivier said he knows Wells has the potential to make his name at ACCS.

“The sky is the limit as long as he works as hard as I know he will,” he said.