Some athletes are blessed with all the physical skills it takes to succeed. Some are driven by a fire that has burned within them all their lives. Some learn skills and values from prominent influences in their lives and apply them to athletics.
And some rare athletes have a conglomeration of all three, such as Malden Catholic two-way lineman Mark Sylvester.
Towering at 6 feet, 4 inches and weighing 260 pounds, Sylvester was seemingly born to man the trenches. His speed, footwork, and agility are what MC first-year coach Robert Almeida calls “special.”
“You can talk about all the technique in the world,” said Almeida. “But sometimes it really comes down to knocking someone off the ball, and he can do that.”
What keeps someone of Sylvester's hulking dimensions a force on the football field is what separates good athletes from great athletes. Sylvester has a motor that simply cannot stop.
“I go hard at practice all week. I treat it like a game situation, focusing all week on what I need to get done,” said Sylvester. “I never give up. (I'm) hard-working, every single play.”
Of course, Sylvester also has someone who keeps him going. Someone who played football himself a city away in Everett.
“My father,” he said. “He's been coaching me all my life, I look up to him for advice. He's told me footwork is the most important thing on the line.”
See more of what Mark Sylvester and Robert Almeida had to say by following the "full entry" link below.
AT THE FRONT LINES WITH MARK SYVLESTER
Do you prefer run-blocking or pass-blocking?
Run-blocking. I love when I get to pull and just knock someone over. I'm more of a power player.
How tough is it working on your third offense in three years?
It's somewhat tough. Having a new coach my senior year was real tough, but we're in the right direction. The team really bought into the program. (Coach Almeida) is a great guy and an awesome coach who prepares us every week for battle.
How is learning a new offense as a lineman differ from if you were a skill position player?
This year we did a whole new blocking scheme. This year it's single block and pulling.
Q & A WITH COACH ROBERT ALMEIDA
What does Mark mean to your team?
I don't think there is a better lineman in the conference than him. He's a dominant player on both sides of the ball. He's clearly our best football player. He brings a level of toughness.
How is working under a new system?
He is extremely intelligent. He has a great understanding of football knowledge. He's working on his third different offense in the past three years. He is the brains of our front seven.
How effective is his offensive line play?
He's an extremely good guard blocker, what I would call rare. He does well on linebackers. He pulls and traps as well as anybody I've seen.
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