"From a very young age, Mark just seemed to always want to work a little bit harder on things to do it just right," Mark Cecco's father, John, said of the Warren offensive and defensive lineman.
Cecco hasn't been a player with a football in his hands through the Dragons' 5-0 start, but he certainly hasn't gone unnoticed.
"Mark Cecco is the leader of our group of linemen," said Warren head coach Brad Wright. "I credit him with being the hardest worker this past offseason. This has helped him gain the respect of his fellow linemen. He is the one that verbally leads and rallies the rest of the unit when we face adversity."
Times Observer photo by Jon Sitler
Warren senior Mark Cecco
This is a year the linemen are getting a few more accolades than in the past. You can't help but notice when they don't give up a single sack, or create holes for running backs the size of city streets.
But Mark's been there all along; "These kids have been playing together since they were seven years old," said his father, who was an offensive lineman himself in his day.
"It does take a lot of hard work to be a lineman," said Mark, who brings his strong work ethic from off the field to the team. Since he was 16 he's worked as a tire technician and powder coater at Warren Tire Center, and he puts a lot of focus on the power equipment program at the Warren County Career Center.
"I have restored a 1947 Farmall M farm tractor. I am currently working on a Lindsay radial air compressor and a 1950 Jaguar XK120 engine," said Mark.
Need we say more?
"We know 100 percent he will work hard in what he does," said John.
A little "Q & A" with Mark Cecco:
Q: Who are your parents and siblings, and what sports do you play?
A: My parents are John and Rita Cecco. I have a 15-year-old brother, Eric, and a 13-year-old sister, Rachel. Sport: Football.
Q: You work in the trenches. What particular play, game or result satisfies you most on the football field? Something that we as the fan may not see as the play or game unfolds.
A: The most satisfying part about being a lineman is that you get to physically impose your will upon the player across from you. There is nothing better than blocking a defensive lineman eight yards down field and pancaking him at the end of the play while watching your back run for a touchdown.
Q: Did you ever dream about being a quarterback or running back, or did you always want to be a lineman? Why or why not?
A: I always knew I was a lineman. Even back in WCYFL, there was nothing I loved more than punishing the person across from me. I did play half-back at that time, but it was never for me.
Q: Tell me about the small intricacies that you've learned make up each play that people don't always see. A little secret about being a lineman, in other words.
A: What not all people notice about us is that our job is not as easy as just pushing around kids across from us. Technical footwork is a major part of being a great lineman. Without good first steps and quick feet, a lineman could never get his job done. Offensive linemen need to be quick thinkers, as last second defensive adjustments instantly change blocking schemes.
Q: Do you play both offense and defense, and which do you prefer?
A: I do play offense and defense. On offense I am the center and on defense I play tackle and end. I personally prefer offense. I like to know my assignment every play, and there is nothing more satisfying than knowing I opened the hole for a touchdown.
Q: What type of character do you have to have to be a lineman, working hard in the trenches? Or, is it the other way around? Does it teach you discipline or character by going to battle in the trenches?
A: It does take a lot of hard work to be a lineman. You have to be stronger and more aggressive than the person across from you to succeed. On the other hand, if your technique is not good, you'll get beat every time. So all in all it does take hard work. You have to want to physically beat the man across from you every time, but without the discipline, your team as a whole cannot succeed.
Q: What are you involved in outside of sports?
A: I shoot in the scholastic trap league for Warren White. In addition to the scholastic league, I also shoot trap in the winter and summer leagues as a part of the Pine Grove team. Along with trap, I work at Warren Tire Center as a tire technician and powder coater. I have been working there since I was sixteen. I enjoy riding motorcycles and also working on them. Much of my motorcycle knowledge has come from Jim Mechling, my teacher, in the Power Equipment program at Warren County Career Center.
Q: What do you want to do after high school? College?
A: I have, for as long as I can remember, wanted to go to Penn State. That being said, my plan is to go there for Mechanical Engineering.
Q: Your team is 4-0 and has averaged over 50 points a game thus far. I know the stock answer is to say you play game by game, but truthfully what is your ultimate goal for this team. How proud are you of how far this group has come in the past few years?
A: Honestly, I just would like to keep winning games and my ultimate goal for this year is to bring home a region championship. I cannot even explain how proud I am of our whole team. Everyone was working hard in the offseason and brought that work ethic right into camp.We all know each other very well and have the desire to keep winning. There is not a single person on our team that doesn't have the desire it takes to succeed.
Q: Do you consider yourself a leader and why or why not? How proud are you to know that no matter your answer your coaches and teammates consider you a leader?
A: I feel that our senior class has a lot of great leadership this year. I do consider myself a leader and try my hardest to lead by example. Hard work can be infectious. I am extremely proud to know my fellow teammates consider me a leader and do my best to be a positive influence.
Q: Who is your inspiration and why?
A: I would have to say my biggest inspiration is my dad. He has taught me to always do my best and that anything can be accomplished with hard work and the right mindset.
Q: Tell me something not many know about you that you'd be willing to share.
A: Believe it or not, I used to think I could be a professional guitarist. After over a year of lessons I realized I had a better chance of winning the lottery.
Q: Tell me one question I forgot to ask, and then answer it.
A: What is your favorite class in school?
Power Equipment is by far my favorite class. I am in the three-year program and cannot even begin to explain how much I have learned there. I have restored a 1947 Farmall M farm tractor. I am currently working on a Lindsay radial air compressor and a 1950 Jaguar XK120 engine. I look forward to this class every day. This class provides a wealth of practical knowledge preparing me for my future as an engineer.