Wednesday, June 19, 2013
PORTLAND - A couple of years ago, Kenny Sweet told his father that he wanted to be a professional bowler. A year ago, he bowled a perfect game.
Kenny Sweet has been a stellar all-around performer for Deering, with five interceptions on defense and a penchant for big hits. Now, he’s getting on-the-job training as a quarterback.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
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Now, Sweet wants to play college football. He has the credentials to do that, too.
The senior halfback/defensive back turned quarterback has given Deering a shot in the arm over the last two games after getting a crash course in his new position.
When junior starter Mike Marzilli was injured against Massabesic on Sept. 14, Sweet was thrust into action late in the third quarter. The Rams lost that game, 56-32. Two weeks ago against unbeaten Scarborough, Sweet scored three touchdowns, two from scrimmage, in a 28-21 loss. Deering led 21-13 in the third quarter before losing to the Red Storm, who were undefeated.
Last week, Deering earned its first win, 28-9 over Biddeford. Sweet passed for two touchdowns and ran for 136 yards.
When Marzilli went down, there was no hesitation from Coach Jon Gallant about his replacement. Sweet had taken snaps during summer practice and had rotated in during preseason.
But playing quarterback in a real game was a first for Sweet.
"So far, so good," said Sweet before practice this week. "I've had to learn a lot. I knew the running plays, but things like rolling out and throwing and screen passes, I've had to work on.
"My passing was a little iffy at first, but it's improving."
Prior to Marzilli's injury, Sweet had been used at running back, tight end, cornerback and safety. So what was one more position?
"Kenny has accepted everything we've thrown at him," said Gallant. "We challenge all of our players all the time. Very rarely do they fail to meet those challenges.
"We tried to simplify things as much as we could for Kenny at first. He's coming around making his reads. He's a tough kid who plays hard. We have a couple explosive runners in Kenny and Dominic Lauture."
An honor roll student, Sweet grasps things quickly, so learning all a quarterback has to know wasn't that big a deal.
A three-year starter on defense, the 6-foot, 175-pound Sweet is known for his big hits.
"That's my favorite part of the game," said Sweet. "I don't want to hurt anyone. I just want to hit hard and make sure they don't want to run that pass route again. Sometimes, I get hit hard. That's the way it goes."
"Teams have to be aware of where Kenny is on defense," said Gallant.
While Sweet's tackling has remained at a high level, Gallant said his ball skills have improved. Sweet has five interceptions on defense.
Through five games, Sweet has rushed for 653 yards on 65 attempts. He has thrown for 126 yards.
Sweet's other passion is bowling. He started when he was 2½ years old because his family was into the sport.
"I used to take Kenny to Yankee Lanes when he was little," said Ken Sweet, his father. "He used to watch everyone throw these big hooks."
Sweet had to pick up the bowling ball with two hands because he wasn't strong enough. He started bowling with two hands and hasn't changed. A right-hander, he puts two fingers in the holes, with his thumb resting on the side. He uses his left hand to guide the ball and impart the spin.
"The style, while rare, works for him. In August, he traveled to Texas for instructions from a coach who specializes in the two-handed technique.
"I've bowled with one hand, but I'm not as good," said Sweet.
Sweet has won a high school state bowling championship. He recently threw a 667 three-game series in league play after not having bowled much because of football.
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