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Windham duo to pace the Bombers

August 12, 2011
By Bob Ettinger - Tribune Chronicle correspondent ( , Underthelights

Jake Sweet and Tyler Pennington were quite the pair during the offseason, hitting the weight room every day in order to get ready for the 2011 season. They wanted to make sure they were getting the most out of their high school football experience.

"At the end of last season, something sparked and I realized we don't have much time playing this game," Sweet said. "We only have fours and I have only two left. I decided to work as hard as I can and make the most of it."

"I wanted to be better and help the team," Pennington said. "I don't want to be pushed around (by opposing teams) all the time. I used to lift here and there. I wanted to hit hard this year."

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In doing so, the young men caught the attention of their coach.

"Those two were in the weight room every day," first-year head coach Brian Kiser said. "They busted their humps. They worked harder than anybody."

It's natural that Pennington and Sweet were in the weight room together. The pair has been friends since their early football-playing days.

"We met each other in third grade," Sweet said. "We played pee-wee (football) together. In junior high, we were plugging along pretty good. I think he was the running back and I was the fullback. We also played linebacker together and the bond formed."

Now juniors, Sweet and Pennington have been making one another better ever since.

"We've pushed each other to the fullest," Sweet said. "We wanted each other to be the best we can be."

"We push each other hard each day to get better," Pennington said. "We're side-by-side pushing each other to get better, faster and stronger."

It was while Sweet and Pennington were in the weight room when Kiser approached Sweet with an idea. He wanted his fullback to move to the offensive line.

"Me and Tyler just were in the weight room day and Coach came up to me," Sweet said. "He said, 'I know you don't want to hear this, but we need someone up on the line who can make the calls.' I told him if he thought it was best for the team, I would do it. He told me that was what he thought was best. I told him to teach me the ropes and I would do the best I could for him."

It wasn't a move Sweet exactly loved early on.

"At the beginning I wasn't too happy," Sweet said. "Since we started hitting it's fun."

He now realizes it was the right move for the Bombers, however.

"This is the best possible situation," Sweet said. "Everyone back there now is a good fit. With me on the line, the team is better off. Coach knew what he was doing when he put me on the line."

But having been a member of the backfield, and with his best friend still back there, Sweet has a unique look at his new position.

"I know what the back is looking for," Sweet said. "Maybe that will help (Pennington) more. I know I have the same perspective as they do, so I know what they're looking for."

Sweet understands that he is supposed to be the invisible man. He also knows when he has done a good job.

"The line doesn't get its name in the papers, but if (Pennington) has a 100-yard game, it means he's done his job and we've done ours."

Having worked alongside Sweet all through the offseason, Pennington knows he can trust the Bombers newest lineman to clear the way for him.

"It helps a lot to know he's gotten a lot stronger," Pennington said. "I know he will be up there blocking hard for me. I have a lot of confidence in him."

Sweet and Pennington may no longer be partners in the backfield, but they can still do some damage together on the defensive side of the ball.

"Us playing linebacker together definitely impacts our friendship," Sweet said. "We've grown more together. It's the greatest feeling to play alongside my best friend. I know if I make a tackle, he'll be there to congratulate me and I will do the same for him. It's good to have him there. If I mess up, I know he'll be there and he knows I'll be there for him."