As the leader of the Yorktown defense, Justin Cavallo believes he has an accurate read on what makes he and his fellow linebackers tick.
“I think one thing for sure: We don’t care about our bodies,” said Cavallo, a senior who plays in the middle. “We’re just out out there and we hit. We love to hit.”
Cavallo said it with a bit of a wink, but his assessment comes from a place of truth. The tone set by Cavallo and outside linebackers Brett Makar and Max Costello has helped drive the Huskers to an 8-0 record and into this week’s Class A semifinal against Rye.
The trio is the central force in a defense that can play fast and fierce.
“We have a special group,” Yorktown coach Mike Rescigno said. “It’s a fun group to coach. They’re not cocky, but they like to perform. Justin is right at the core of that. He loves the game. He loves to hit. It takes a special type of person to play in the middle of our defense. You have to deal with a lot of smashing.”
Cavallo believes he is not alone in that regard. He considers Makar, a junior, and Costello, a senior, as teammates who are also willing to do whatever it takes to make a play.
“I think we have a different mentality,” Cavallo said. “I think I can say for the other two, we’re a little crazy. We play like we have a screw loose up there.”
Costello is also blessed with an impressive football mind, according to his coach. He recently missed four games with a separated shoulder and spent those weeks coaching backup Pat Patierno and encouraging others.
Costello’s acumen for Xs and Os was seen earlier this season when he took over playcalling duties from Cavallo, a returning starter.
“At the beginning of the year we were practicing and getting ready for John Jay,” Cavallo said. “He told me, hey, you’re calling the plays too slow. I’m going to do it,” And Costello has handled that resposibility since.
Makar, of course, is best known for being a 1,000-yard rusher with a team-high 18 touchdowns, but he has been a stable force on defense. His 39 tackles are second on the team to Cavallo (54) and his five sacks lead the roster.
“I would say he’s just as good or better on defense,” Cavallo said. “It’s almost like he never gets tired.”