To build a defense, the Cylc clan of Claymont, Del., is an ideal choice for laying the foundation.
Brothers Joe and Larry Jr., an inside linebacker and nose guard on Navy's defensive unit, respectively, know quite a bit about construction, having labored extensively under the supervision of their father in the building of the family home when both were still in middle school.
And each likely will be a key figure tomorrow in the effort to stymie the Duke attack when the Midshipmen finally resume their season as the Blue Devils' homecoming opponent after a three-week lull.
Larry will be in the middle of the front wall, frequently just in front of his older brother, who is the primary replacement for starting inside linebackers Rob Caldwell and Jake Biles. When they are in the game together, no one beams more than Larry Sr., who coached them both at Hodgson Vocational Technical High School.
Larry Sr., also a history teacher, had helped to develop homes as a sideline before enlisting his sons' help on the family's new residence after designing it himself. It was strictly a hands-on experience for Joe, who was in an electrical trades program in school, and Larry, who was concentrating on plumbing.
"He just used us for labor," said Larry Jr. "We did everything except the heating and air. We poured concrete for the foundation, did the plumbing, the dry wall, the circuits. Dad had owned a construction business a while ago and he wanted to build our own home, so we did."
"I was 13 and Larry was 12," added Joe. "Every weekend we had to do it, so we know something about building. We're still in that house."
"We saved a lot of money doing it ourselves," said Larry Sr. "It was a great experience."
They also worked well together at Hodgson, where the Cylc (pronounced Silk) brothers excelled both academically and athletically. Joe, a year older, had to make his collegiate choice first, and he wound up at Navy in a rather roundabout manner.
"He was going to Delaware as a preferred walk-on," said Larry Sr. "They have the unique belief there that they should hold an in-state scholarship for a kid for a year because tuition is so cheap. When Navy came along, I don't think there was a whole lot to be decided. He was on the baseball diamond when I told him he got a [Division] I-A offer. It was a deal impossible to turn down."
Joe attended the Naval Academy Prep School for a year after signing with Navy in July. Hence, he and Larry, who came directly to Annapolis, are both juniors.
"Joe brings stability," assessed Kevin Kelly, who coaches Navy's inside linebackers. "He knows all the calls, and he's s a production type of player. He's smart, a steady Eddie and does his job very well."
Larry Jr., undersized for a nose guard at 265 pounds, was heavily recruited by Big East Conference schools.
"That was an exciting time in the house," said his father. "We felt he had the ability to play I-A and he got offers from Pitt and Boston College. But Joe was already at NAPS and I think that was a big factor. Larry had been to NAPS a couple times and on the yard [in Annapolis] a few times, and he felt real comfortable with all the guys."
When Larry Jr. attended Navy's 30-23 defeat to Notre Dame in Baltimore as a high school senior, he was additionally impressed by what he viewed as an improving program under then-new coach Paul Johnson. "Navy was my No. 1 choice," he said.
He has inherited a position manned last season by perhaps the most unheralded player on a 10-2 team, Babatunde Akingbemi, and has had big shoes to fill. He consults with his predecessor regularly.
The Cylc file
The Cylcs as athletes at Hodgson Vocational Technical High School in Newark, Del.:
Letters -- Football 4, baseball 4, wrestling 3
Individual honors -- As senior, first-team all-state linebacker, first-team all-state first baseman, state wrestling champion at 215 pounds
Team achievements -- As senior, football team reached state semifinals, baseball team reached state playoffs, wrestling team won state title
Letters -- Football 4, track 4, wrestling 3
Individual honors -- As junior, state heavyweight wrestling champion; as senior, state shot put champion
Team achievements -- As junior, football team reached state semifinals, wrestling team won state title; as senior, football team reached state semifinals
Navy@Duke Tomorrow, 1 p.m., 1090 AM. Line: Navy by 6 1/2