Sweeney gives it one last shot on the gridiron

Justin Sweeney

LISBON–Lisbon running back Justin Sweeney will get a chance to ensure that his last high school football game ends with a positive memory.

Sweeney, who saw his senior season cruelly cut short with a torn ACL in week two, will suit up one more time as he tries to help Ohio to its fourth straight victory in Wednesday’s 40th annual Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic at Geneva College’s Reeves Field.

“It’s an honor to be able to play football one more time after the way the season ended,” Sweeney said. “It’s a great opportunity to play again with people you’ve grown up with. I’ve played against a lot of these guys my entire life, now you get to come together as one. It’s been a lot of fun.”

While Sweeney made a name for himself as one of the best basketball players in Lisbon history, he has carried a deep love of football from an early age.

“When I was little, football was always my thing,” Sweeney said. “Growing up, I was a running back just like in high school and I loved it. I just loved playing the game and being a part of the team. I grew up with those guys and we played together all the way through high school. It’s going to be tough leaving and knowing that you might not see some of them again.”

Though he never returned to the field for the Blue Devils in 2018, Sweeney was still able to make it back and dress for senior night in week 10.

“I didn’t think I was going to be able to dress for that at first,” Sweeney said. “It was very special. When you step on your home field one last time, it’s a memory that you’ll never forget.”

Sweeney refused to accept that the injury would also sideline him for basketball and willed himself back onto the court early in the season.

He wound up as a first-team All-Ohioan and the second leading scorer in Columbiana County history with 1,581 career points. He will continue his basketball career in the fall at Westminster College.

“I just love the game and I’m looking forward to the chance to play at the next level,” Sweeney said. “I don’t feel like I reached my full potential last year because of the injury and now I get four more years to prove something.”

First, though, he has one more football game.

“I’m looking forward to playing with all these guys,” Sweeney said. “We’re looking good and we have a lot of potential on the team. I think we can go out there and get the win.”