/seasons/2012/contrib/20121010jxwp0n

Bench Press Brotherhood

More news about: Amherst

Bench Press Brotherhood

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By Ben Badua

It was the only spat that they really remember having. Ironically enough, it occurred in the one place where they had bonded the most. Nearing the end of a set on the bench press with several teammates, Jack Reynolds '13 spotted a late-arriving John Ceccio '13. Can I work in with you guys? Before an agitated Reynolds could begrudgingly agree, Ceccio began replacing plates.

After a couple of repetitions, he once again turned to Reynolds. Let me do one more set. An increasingly annoyed Reynolds wasn't having it. They were almost done, he wanted out and the last thing they needed was another interruption. Instead of putting the weight clip back on the bar, a frustrated Ceccio dropped it and walked away. That's when all hell broke loose.

"I lost it," recalled Reynolds. "I just got in his face and started screaming. Everyone got out of our way."

With the two arguing offensive linemen weighing a combined 550 lbs., who could blame them? But despite the tension, emotions didn't run high for long. Ten minutes later, they were apologizing and laughing. Looking back, both acknowledge that it was the "dumbest fight of all time."

Ceccio and Reynolds. Reynolds and Ceccio. They're a package deal. Playing each other in high school, they knew of one another when they arrived on campus. Ceccio's St. Joseph Regional team beat Reynolds' Delbarton squad two years in a row in the New Jersey state playoffs (something Ceccio still teases Reynolds about).

With that connection, the two gravitated toward one another and began building the foundation for their friendship. They hang out together. They eat, live, play, and of course, work out together. You can't mention one without the other, and if you see one, you can almost always bet the other is either right behind or just around the corner.

"There's more hours in the day than not that I'm with John," said Reynolds. "My parents consider him another son and vice versa."

"I'm with Jack more than I am with my family," added Ceccio. "Even when we're home, we visit each other the whole time."

Offensive line coach Matt Ballard likens Ceccio and Reynolds to an old married couple, while head coach E.J. Mills thinks of them as "Frick and Frack." Spend any amount of time with the duo and it's easy to understand why. The rapport they've built is evident. The inside jokes are plentiful and the constant ribbing is effortless. While they may bicker from time to time, mostly they're just joking around and after endless hours spent together, they know exactly how to tug at each others' nerves.

While they're very similar, there are a few subtle differences. One claims to be slightly taller, the other, slightly slimmer. At times, Ceccio can be boisterous and loud, while Reynolds is a bit more understated. Both could be described as happy-go-lucky with a generally positive demeanor.

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"I think we're known as the funny guys," said Reynolds. "We try to lighten up the mood, especially with the offensive line. It's a tough position, mentally and physically, and it's easy to get rattled. I think us constantly joking around gets everybody, including the coaches, laughing and helps keep us loose."

Despite their relatively cheery disposition off the field, don't expect them to be nearly as friendly between the lines. On gamedays, it's as if a switch has been flipped. They walk on the field and just want to hit someone. It's like they've blacked out and it's all that matters. The only adjectives that come to mind are mean, aggressive and focused.

"This is probably the most physical offensive line we've had in my nine years here," said Ballard. "A lot of it is because of those two guys. You can tell on the field that they get a kick out of smashing people."

A four-year starter, two-time All-NESCAC first team selection and 2012 D3 Senior Classic Preseason All-American, Ceccio is widely regarded as the league's preeminent center. Starting as a tackle before moving to left guard, Reynolds has solidified a line that has led the conference in fewest sacks allowed for four consecutive years, while bolstering a rushing attack that has gained more yards with each successive season.

In 2009, Amherst averaged just 79.1 rushing yards per game. The following year, their first starting on the line together, the team ranked fourth in the league with 173.6 yards. Last season the Jeffs finished second at 189.5 yards per outing and in 2012, the Purple & White have picked up 254.3 yards per game on the ground.

"John is by far the most physical player I've ever seen," said Reynolds. "He's an All-American for a reason. I've seen him take people, drive them back 15 yards and put them on their backs. Some of the most absurd things you shouldn't be able to do to another person, he has done."

"He's just as physical as I am," added Ceccio. "There are times in pass protection where I may just be hanging in there, but Jack is going over to de-cleat whomever. Even if no one is there, he'll find work and do his best to hit the person as hard as possible."

Always working as a team to cover blocking assignments, the offensive line is a particularly close-knit uint. Ceccio and Reynolds take it to another level, with their closeness off the field seamlessly translating to the gridiron. Playing right next to each other the past two years, it's no wonder they work so well in tandem: they don't even have to talk to each other to be on the same page. But when something does need to be said, it's a unique bond numbers 54 (Ceccio) and 55 (Reynolds) have been able to cultivate.

"When you get critiqued by someone you respect, it obviously means more," said Reynolds. "If John tells me something, I'm going to listen."

"If I miss a block, he's there to pick me up," Ceccio added. "If I'm doing something wrong and he gets on me, I'm okay with that."

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While they have worked to make one another better during their time spent on the turf, it's their shared dedication off it that truly has brought them together. Arguably the two strongest players on the team, Ceccio and Reynolds double as each others' spotters during lifting sessions. They're the only people capable of doing so.  

Spending three months of the year together on the field, they'll spend the other nine training. Fostering a healthy competition, they've pushed and motivated each other like no one else on the team could. It's the reason they've become the athletes they are today and why they share such a mutual level of respect and admiration.

"Having John along for this whole ride means so much to me," explained Reynolds. "He's someone I can always share the memories with."

"When we're older, we'll still be best friends," said Ceccio. "We can look back and say, 'Hey, remember that day at practice or that game?'"

Now in their final season, the two are acutely aware that the clock is ticking. There are only so many practices and lifting sessions left. Mornings waking up the next dorm room over are numbered, as are the walks or drives together to Pratt Field.

This time next year, they won't be sitting next to each other in a locker room getting ready for another gameday. Instead, they'll hopefully be continuing a tradition of visiting teammate Lou Jacoubs' family home on the Cape, reminiscing about the good old days, while putting away endless amounts of food. Ceccio may playfully throw in a jab about Delbarton while feasting over the course of the weekend. Reynolds may remind his former teammate of his high school's superior academic reputation, while feeling like a skill position player watching his old line buddy eat.

Either way, while they may not want to think about it just yet, this chapter of their lives is almost over. Luckily, they know the next one is still being written and it's probably why that lone fight in the weight room didn't amount to much.

Oct. 13: All times Eastern
Final
Bridgewater State 24, at Mass-Dartmouth 22
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 21, UW-La Crosse 14
Video Box Score Recap
Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
Salve Regina 45, at Nichols 10
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Mount Ida 14, at Dean 7
Box Score
Final
at Thomas More 59, Waynesburg 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Maine Maritime 34, Coast Guard 16
Video Box Score
Final
at Finlandia 27, Trinity Bible 21
Video Box Score
Final
Hamilton 28, at Bowdoin 7
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Olivet 47, Albion 26
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Wesleyan 41, Bates 23
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Union 27, at Rochester 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Amherst 40, at Colby 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Western New England 41, Endicott 14
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Plymouth State 16, Framingham State 13
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at RPI 27, Ithaca 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Hobart 49, at Hartwick 27
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Ferrum 34, LaGrange 20
Video Box Score
Final
at Carnegie Mellon 42, Geneva 27
Video Box Score
Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
DePauw 26, at Denison 17
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Trine 42, Kalamazoo 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Washington and Lee 47, Guilford 26
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Husson 49, Castleton 0
Box Score Recap
Final
Gallaudet 35, at Alfred State 19
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
Video Box Score
Final
Brevard 41, at Methodist 17
Video Box Score
Final
at Lebanon Valley 31, Stevenson 24
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Buffalo State 24, at St. Lawrence 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
Box Score Recap Live stats
Final
at Randolph-Macon 52, Emory and Henry 29
Video Box Score
Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hampden-Sydney 58, Apprentice 28
Video Box Score
Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at N.C. Wesleyan 45, Greensboro 0
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Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 49, Grove City 27
Video Box Score
Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
Video Box Score
Final
at Westminster (Mo.) 56, Crown 15
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Final
at Northwestern (Minn.) 29, Iowa Wesleyan 7
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Final
at Knox 56, Grinnell 14
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Final
at Widener 31, Lycoming 17
Video Box Score
Final
Trinity (Conn.) 23, at Tufts 16
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount St. Joseph 66, Earlham 7
Video Box Score
Final - 2OT
Ohio Northern 27, at John Carroll 20
Preview Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Baldwin Wallace 23, at Muskingum 20
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Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Final
Rose-Hulman 44, at Manchester 13
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Final
at Hanover 31, Bluffton 28
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Final
Defiance 45, at Anderson 0
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Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Final
Hiram 62, at Kenyon 56
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Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Final
Williams 27, at Middlebury 26
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Final
at Westfield State 33, Fitchburg State 21
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Final
Marietta 43, at Wilmington 33
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Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Final
Curry 40, at Becker 0
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Final
TCNJ 20, at Rowan 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at SUNY-Maritime 51, Anna Maria 15
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Final
Salisbury 28, at Montclair State 10
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Final
at Huntingdon 28, Maryville (Tenn.) 16
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Final
at Austin 33, Millsaps 19
Video Box Score
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Washington U. 55, Buena Vista 20
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
Alma 27, at Aurora 19
Video Box Score
Final
at Rockford 29, Concordia-Chicago 14
Video Box Score
Final
Wisconsin Lutheran 22, at Concordia (Wis.) 19
Video Box Score
Final
at Lakeland 57, Benedictine 21
Video Box Score
Final
at St. Norbert 10, Chicago 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
St. Olaf 22, at Augsburg 20
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Bethel 24, at Gustavus Adolphus 3
Video Box Score
Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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Final
at Eureka 30, Greenville 19
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Final
Centre 27, at Trinity (Texas) 21
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Final
Dubuque 42, at Nebraska Wesleyan 27
Video Box Score
Final
Central 30, at Coe 19
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Final
Lake Forest 56, at Cornell 28
Video Box Score
Final
at Carthage 31, Elmhurst 8
Video Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Final
Millikin 28, at Augustana 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Ripon 52, at Beloit 28
Video Box Score
Final
MacMurray 49, at Minnesota-Morris 13
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Final
Macalester 21, at Lawrence 18
Video Box Score
Final
at Monmouth 59, Illinois College 14
Video Box Score
Final
at UW-Stevens Point 26, UW-Eau Claire 3
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Wooster 38, Oberlin 28
Video Box Score
Final
Texas Lutheran 41, at East Texas Baptist 34
Video Box Score
Final
at UW-Stout 21, UW-River Falls 16
Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Sewanee 34, at Birmingham-Southern 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hope 22, Adrian 3
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
Video Box Score
Cancelled
La Verne at Occidental
Video Live stats Audio
Final
Whitworth 17, at Pacific Lutheran 14
Video Box Score Photos Photos
Final
at Cal Lutheran 42, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 20
Video Box Score
Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
Video Video Box Score
Final
at Pacific 35, Puget Sound 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Pomona-Pitzer 45, at Whittier 23
Video Box Score
Final
at Western Connecticut 28, Massachusetts Maritime 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Scholastica 56, Martin Luther 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final - 5OT
at St. John Fisher 39, Utica 36
Video Recap Live stats Audio
Final - OT
at Heidelberg 48, Otterbein 45
Video Preview Box Score Recap Audio Tickets
Final
at Shenandoah 38, Bridgewater 20
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Southwestern 60, at Belhaven 31
Video Video Box Score
Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
Box Score
Final
at Louisiana College 52, McMurry 34
Box Score
Final
at Simpson 38, Luther 17
Video Box Score
Final
at Chapman 45, Redlands 26
Video Video Box Score Recap Recap
Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Recap Box Score
Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
Box Score Recap Live stats
Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
Video Box Score
Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
Video Box Score
Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
Video Box Score
Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
Video Box Score
Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
Video Box Score
Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
Video Video Box Score
Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
Box Score
Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Recap Box Score