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Remembering where they came from: Big Bend coaches honor community by coaching

Posted at 11:43 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 23:43:48-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — On Friday night, Rickards and Gadsden County High Schools look to win and advance as they chase state titles in football.

The two schools are led by childhood friends Quintin Lewis and Corey Fuller, both driven by the want to give back to the community they grew up in.

The sign for Orange Avenue Apartments has long faded away, but the memories of growing up there are still clear for Fuller, now the head coach at Gadsden County High School.

"I saw my brother, 18 years old, laying on a gurney with a bullet in his head," said Fuller.

The housing project in Tallahassee shaped Fuller into the man he is today.

"We had a community feel where we all looked out for each other," he remembered.

A community that raised him, and later, Rickards head coach Quintin Lewis.

"Seeing Corey Fuller play high school football with my brother, seeing him play college football," Lewis said. "That's one thing that when I played college football, he called me every other week to talk to me about what I was doing, to make sure I stayed straight."

From Orange Avenue to both becoming standouts for Rickards High School.

"Not a long of guys from the south city projects came out and made something of themselves or did things good," said Lewis. "We happen to be two of them."

They both knew, one day, they'd give back to make sure kids that grew up like them know they can make it out too.

"Your dreams that you're chasing, you can make them become real," said Fuller. "Me doing this is to try to save lives for real. From the school to this field."

"To give back to the same community I grew up in, the same kids I walked the hallways with, it's a blessing," added Lewis. "I want to represent the Orange Avenue Apartment Complex with great pride and Rickards High with great pride also."

The pride that will only grow, as both coaches are wins away from bringing state championships to their respective programs.

"We talk about this all the time. Every year we want to be the last two teams standing," said Lewis.

"For us to be from Rickards, from the same community, it's big for our kids to see this," said Fuller.

Two guys from the south side, as the last two standing. Rickards faces Baker County in the 5A regional finals Friday, while Gadsden County takes on Bolles in the 4A state semifinals.