Mr. Football chooses baseball

Friday, August 26, 2016
Forrest's Boone Sweeney, flanked by younger brother Blaize and mom Melinda signs his Letter of Intent to attend Martin Methodist College to play baseball next season for the RedHawks. Back row from left are, Martin Methodist coaches Jody Evans and Kelly Bratton and Forrest coaches Bart Joyce and Andy Burkett. Photo submitted

Class 2A Mr. Football Lineman of the Year Boone Sweeney has decided to hang up his shoulder pads to don his catching gear next season at Martin Methodist College at Pulaski.

"It's exciting and it's just good to get this pressure off my chest and finish my summer, knowing what I have in front of me," Sweeney said. "They have a really good program and I'm really excited and looking forward to what is coming next."

Sweeney, a two-time District 9A selection as a backstop said about his decision to choose baseball over football, "It was the physical factor, playing all those years of high school football just breaks you down with the wear and tear, plus baseball has always been my first passion and has always been in my heart."

Martin Methodist coach Kelly Bratton, who is entering his seventh season at his alma mater said about Sweeney's decision, "I'm sure that was a tough decision to make to play baseball over football, but I think his better days of baseball are ahead of him. Now we will see how good he progresses with football out of the way, he can focus solely on baseball now."

Bratton also talked Sweeney's character in the decision to sign the Forrest alum, saying, "I have had had numerous people tell me how good of a kid he is, which means a lot to me in the recruiting process."

Sweeney, who will major in business at Martin Methodist also likes the familiarity of being close to home and the fact that he has many friends there and there are several local players that are on the RedHawks squad.

"I have family down in Pulaski and some buddies there too and all my football offers weren't anywhere close to home," Sweeney said. "I feel like I fit in fine, so we will just see where it goes."

Bratton, and for that matter most of the sporting teams at Martin Methodist continue to tap the local talent, something that is very important to the RedHawks coaching staff.

"We reach out to coaches all over the country, trying to find that special player but it's also good when they are in your back yard and want to stay close to home," Bratton stated.

Boone Sweeney rounds third based and heads for home after slamming a homerun in the District 9A title game last season. Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

During his four years on the baseball team, the Rockets posted a 98-47 record with three Region 5A titles, two District 9A championships, two sectional wins and two Spring Fling appearances in four years.

"I think our record speaks for itself," Sweeney said. "We luckily had a great group of guys every year I played, especially our sophomore and senior years when we made the state tournament. They were good times and I was glad I was a part of it."

Sweeney batted .314 and had a .495 slugging percentage for the Rockets last year with 3HR, 10 doubles and 32 RBI, while throwing out 10 runners from behind the dish.

Sweeney will have his work cut out for him as he attempts to win the catcher's job at Martin Methodist where he will be in a battle with another local product, sophomore Rob McMaster's from Giles County High School.

"There is always a battle for every position and the good thing about Boone and Rob is I think they are both going to hit," Bratton said. "There is always a big transition from high school baseball to college....freshmen don't typically step in and play right away, but the good thing about that is you never know how things are going to work out."

McMasters did not play as a freshman last season for RedHawks, who posted a 23-25 record in 2015-2016.