Steelers WR Mike Wallace, Chiefs S Kendrick Lewis to share reunion
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Three key members of the Kansas City Chiefs offense -- quarterback Tyler Palko and wide receivers Steve Breaston and Jon Baldwin -- will have a Western Pennsylvania reunion tonight when they face the Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium.
But one high school in particular -- O. Perry Walker in New Orleans -- will have a bigger gathering of alumni on the field. And the reunion might have a more significant impact on the game.
Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, who is second in the AFC with 922 receiving yards, and Chiefs safety Kendrick Lewis, who is second on the team with three interceptions, were more than teammates at the University of Mississippi. They have known each other since they attended O. Perry Walker High School together.
But they are not alone.
Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis also went to the same high school and has known Kendrick Lewis since the two used to race as eighth-graders. They are not blood relatives, despite having the same last name, but they are related: Keenan Lewis is married to Kendrick Lewis' cousin.
"This is a big reunion," Keenan Lewis said. "This is something that has been building up since the summer."
Keenan Lewis and Wallace have been best friends since they were kids growing up in the Cutoff section of Algiers, a neighborhood of New Orleans. But, after both decided to attend Oregon State, Wallace changed his mind and followed one of high-school coaches to Mississippi. Kendrick Lewis followed him to Ole Miss a year later.
Tonight, as the free safety, Kendrick Lewis will be responsible for not letting Wallace get behind him.
"It's a hard job for him," Wallace said, smiling. "I'm going at him."
"He has a tough task," Keenan Lewis said of the Chiefs' second-year safety. "He's probably nervous right away."
Lewis has had to take a more active role in the Chiefs defense since the loss of safety Eric Berry -- their Troy Polamalu -- to a season-ending knee injury in the season opener.
He has responded with three interceptions for 119 return yards, including a 59-yard touchdown against the Oakland Raiders. He also recovered a fumble in an overtime victory against the San Diego Chargers that gave the Chiefs a share of the AFC West lead.
Curiously, Lewis was selected in the same draft as Berry, who was the Chiefs' first-round pick and fifth overall in 2010. But Lewis wasn't selected until the fifth round because his draft stock plummeted when he ran a 4.73 at the NFL combine.
"I don't know where that came from; I give him a hard time about that all the time," Wallace said. "But it's worked out for him. He's a good player with good instincts. His 40 time might not be fast, but he definitely has game speed."
He will need it trying to cover Wallace.
First Published November 27, 2011 12:00 am