Graham senior Devin Lester accepted a mission this season.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound was asked to replace Cam Allen at quarterback.
Allen, now playing a key role at cornerback for Purdue, was selected as the Class 2 offensive and defensive player of the year last year after guiding the G-Men to the Class 2 championship.
Judging from the results through 12 games, anything is possible with Lester.
“Things have definitely gone well. I’ve enjoyed it,” Lester said.
The next episode unfolds today as Graham (10-2) will host Wise County Central (10-2) in the Region 2D title game. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Mitchell Stadium.
Relying on speed, instincts and a massive offensive line, Lester has accumulated 3,000 total yards and over 35 touchdowns.
So is Lester a passing or running quarterback?
“It really doesn’t matter. My line provides the protection and that gives me option to do whatever I want,” Lester said
In last week’s 48-7 victory at Union, Lester ran for 152 yards and three scores while passing for 123 yards and another score. And he accomplished that feat in just three quarters.
“Our starters have only played the first half in most of our games, so it would be interesting to see what Devin’s stats would be if he played four quarters of every game,” said Graham’s Tony Palmer, last year’s Class 2 coach of the year. “Devin can do a lot of things.
The Southwest District champ G-Men have scored at least 45 points five times this season, and a running clock has been common. Losses came against Bluefield, West Virginia, and Union.
“This team has faced challenges throughout the season and we’ve been able to pick up everything,” Lester said. “Last season was great, but we wanted to show people that we were more than a one-hit wonder.”
Lester is more than an overnight sensation at quarterback. He played the position from youth league level until his sophomore season when the 6-1 Allen began to work his magic.
Allen passed for 2,591 yards and rushed for 1,989 last season. He also generated 61 total touchdowns, the third most in VHSL history.
“Cam taught me so much,” Lester said. “He’s been doing well at Purdue, and his success motivates everyone in our program to work harder and get better.”
While Lester has flourished at the director of the new-look Graham offense, he expects to work at slot receiver for Old Dominion University.
“I’ll do whatever it takes and play any spot to help my team,” Lester said. “Every player on this year’s team has played a key role. It’s not just one guy.”
Four different players have caught scoring passes from Lester and his backup, Jamir Blevins. Ten players have collected touchdowns.
“Our receivers take pride in running good routes and making catches. But if the pass is covered, the holes will be there for our backs and those guys run hard,” Lester said.
Kayin Carson, 6-2 and 305-pound senior, joined the proven cast on the offensive line this season. The G-Men also used sophomore Brody Meadows (6-7, 305) on the defensive line last week.
“We brought Brody in just to make a mess, and he did a great job,” Palmer said.
Palmer said he has been pleased with how his players have responded to the spotlight that comes with a state championship.
“Nobody cares what happened last season, except for us,” Palmer said. “We want that championship to come through Graham again, so we had to go back the lab.”
Now that he aced the first few elements of his 2019 mission at quarterback, Lester said he’s eager to face his ultimate fate.
“Every high school athlete wants to experience the feeling of winning a state title. We’d love to have that feeling again,” Lester said.
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