Tony Boone was just looking for a good place in the Charlotte area to live in 2003 after taking a job with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.A friend suggested Weddington because it was a nice place to live and had some of the same small-town traits as Moncks Corner, S.C., where the Boones were living at the time. Boone decided to get involved with his community and his son Anthony’s new football team by volunteering his services to then Weddington Middle School football coach Jim Davis. The elder Boone, who played college football at Michigan State during the late 1970s, was the defensive coordinator of the team.“We didn’t know anyone or anything about Weddington,” said Tony Boone, who became head coach of the Weddington team in 2004 and 2005. “But all the parents clicked really well from the start, and I think that was huge because the kids all fell in line. Of course, we knew really quickly that we had a special group of kids, too.”Seven of player Anthony Boone’s teammates became some of his best friends: Braxton Deaver, David Durham, Darius Kilgo, Ty Linton, Matt Sawyer, Prince Shembo and Vinnie Sunseri. That group was the foundation of a team that went 29-1 in three middle school seasons, winning the Union County championship every year.Seven of the players went on to play in college – the eighth played college lacrosse – and two were picked in the most recent NFL draft.“We really all learned to play football and how to be tough on those teams,” Durham said. “We were lucky to have not only a talented group but a group of guys who loved football. Every day at practice was a battle just to keep your position.”Anthony Boone starred at quarterback, linebacker and safety, while Deaver was a wide receiver and safety. Durham primarily played center and defensive tackle, and Kilgo was a nose tackle and offensive tackle. Shembo and Sunseri both played running back and linebacker, with Linton playing running back, wide receiver and cornerback. Sawyer was a guard and defensive tackle.Anthony Boone (Weddington High) has worked his way up the ladder at Duke, as the 6-foot, 225-pound senior enters his second full season as Blue Devils’ starting quarterback and is a preseason All-Atlantic Coast Conference pick and Maxwell Award watch list candidate. Boone had a career-year in 2013, passing for 2,260 yards and 13 touchdowns while leading his team to a 10-4 record and an ACC Coastal Division title.Deaver (Providence High), also a senior and Boone’s roommate at Duke, overcame a knee injury that forced him to miss the entire 2012 season to have a career year in 2013. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound starting tight end caught 46 passes for 600 yards and four touchdowns.David Durham (Charlotte Christian) started his collegiate career as a fullback at Ohio State and transferred to the University of Pittsburgh. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound senior is now entering his second season as a Panthers’ starting defensive end.Darius Kilgo (Weddington High), is a 6-foot-3, 310-pound defensive lineman entering his final season at Maryland as a three-year starter for the Terrapins, with a career-best 37 tackles last season. Ty Linton (Charlotte Christian) may have taken the most unusual path to college football. He committed to North Carolina in 2010, but he was drafted in the 14th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks and offered a $1.25 million signing bonus.After his minor league baseball career didn’t work out, Linton, 23, decided to return to the gridiron on the N.C. State football team. Linton had a solid spring practice before tearing his left ACL. Both Shembo (Ardrey Kell) at Notre Dame and Sunseri (Marvin Ridge) at Alabama finished their respective college careers last season. The two were both drafted in the NFL Draft in May.Shembo was taken in the fourth round by the Atlanta Falcons. Sunseri was a fifth round pick by the New Orleans Saints.Sawyer didn’t play college football after starring at Charlotte Catholic, but he did earn a Division I college lacrosse scholarship, where he played at Loyola (Md.) the past four years, finishing with a career-best 19 goals and seven assists as a senior. It’s still hard for some to believe they were once on the same roster.“We all knew we had a lot of talent and a high standard even back in middle school,” Durham said. “But it wasn’t until we left and split up that we realized just how special that team was.”Most of the players have stayed in contact, including coach Boone.The coach and his wife, Jenice, visited Durham the night before the Pittsburgh vs. Duke game, with Durham introducing the Boones as his parents to many of his Panther teammates.The next day, Anthony Boone, who was out for that game because of an injury, had a running conversation with Durham from the sideline. Deaver and Durham, who were once next door neighbors, lined up across from each other several times, even high-fiving before one play.“I think about those guys and that team a lot,” Durham said. “You remember the value of football goes beyond wins and losses and brings people together and helps make special relationships.”“The bond between a lot of the guys that played on that team is still strong,” Anthony Boone said. “We were like a family because we were together so much. It’s more of a family than a football team.”
Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2014
Weddington Middle football produced college, NFL players
2003-05 Weddington Middle football
Current college football players: Anthony Boone, Weddington (Duke); Braxton Deaver, Providence High (Duke); David Durham, Charlotte Christian (Pittsburgh); Darius Kilgo, Weddington (Maryland); Ty Linton, Charlotte Christian (N.C. State).
Current NFL players: Prince Shembo, Atlanta Falcons (Ardrey Kell, Notre Dame); Vinnie Sunseri, New Orleans Saints (Marvin Ridge, Alabama).
Former college lacrosse player: Matt Sawyer, Charlotte Catholic (Loyola, Md.).
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com.
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