Sometimes talent is homegrown. Students grow up into the community and become family. Other times, people move into town later in life and greatly impact a community, or in this case, a school.
That’s what Oak Grove quarterback Damon Stewart did during the 2019 football season, leading the Warriors to back-to-back South State Championships and two-straight State Championship games, to becoming the Sports601 Player of the Year for Forrest, Lamar, and Covington County area.
Stewart finished with 3,056 passing yards and 37 passing touchdowns. He also accumulated 523 rushing yards and 10 rushing scores, putting him at 47 total touchdowns.
“I don’t have any regrets from the year we had. I enjoyed every minute of it. It became like a big family with the atmosphere. Going out every Friday night, and with the adversity we had to overcome, just battling out with guys who became my brothers, it was humbling,” said Stewart.
Stewart transferred from Chattahoochie High School in Alpharetta, Georgia to Oak Grove this past summer and while the transition was not seamless, even physically, the senior quarterback attempted to keep the right mindset throughout.
“It was a lot. Before I came here I dislocated my knee. That threw me off a bit. I felt like when I came here, I had to fill the shoes of John Rhys [Plumlee], along with having a lot of eyes on me and talking about me. I wanted people to know that I was here and wanted to be a presence. When I first got here though, I was timid on my knee. Coach Mitchell [quarterbacks coach] he had a big impact on me, helping me with my footwork and fundamentals. He helped me gain comfort in the pocket. Then the offensive line gave me the protection I needed to help my confidence. When it all clicked and we everyone did their jobs I fed off them We did all of this as an entire unit, and when they played well, I played well ”
During the regular season, Oak Grove entered a three-game skid where they dropped two district games during that time. Something clicked between him and head coach Drew Causey that saw the quarterback pick his game up to a higher level.
“I remember something with Damon, I guess it was on a Tuesday. Our junior varsity was scrimmaging and I was about to run the varsity, but I could tell Damon was in a funk. We sat there on the 45-yard line and I told him that we believe in you and know you can lead this team. If we didn’t believe in you then you wouldn’t be playing. I think him getting that confidence from us and starting to believe that the other guys do believe in him was a turning point for us as a team, and especially with him. You look from there on out and he played lights out for the rest of the season. He had only about three interceptions and over 20 touchdown passes, so he turned it on,” said Causey.
There are many memories that Stewart holds from his senior football season, but one early one over the summer stands out.
In the summer, we had a practice and it didn’t go the way we wanted. All of the seniors came together, sat down, and made a list of goals that we wanted to achieve. We achieved eight of those goals. Going through all of that during the season, knowing we had that bit of a dry spell, we still won South State, we went to the State Championship, and even though we fell shy, we accomplished so much, said Stewart.
After his senior season, Stewart plans to start his journey at the next level as he has several offers at JUCO schools.
“I have four JUCO offers. Hinds, Pearl River, East Mississippi, and Coahoma. I also have an offer from Jackson State University, too,” explained Stewart.
Congratulations to Oak Grove's Damon Stewart on becoming the Sports601 Player of the Year for Forrest, Lamar, and Covington County area.