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Lancaster football's Calo brothers share common vision: A state championship

Jacob and Jeremy Calo spend countless hours perfecting their crafts.

For Jacob, the starting left tackle on the Lancaster football team, he invests his time in the weight room, film room and on the practice field so that he can do his part on an explosive Legends offense come Fridays and Saturdays.

So far so good for the senior, who shifted over from his left guard spot last season and is just one of two returning starters on a line that has allowed quarterback Ryan Mansell to be sacked once through seven weeks. He was nominated for the Trench Trophy, an award given to the top lineman in Western New York, after last week's blowout win at rival Depew.

“We lost both of our tackles,” Jacob said, “and I went to the coaches in preseason camp when we had our interviews and they kind of asked, ‘Where do you want to play on the line this year?’ I told them I want to play left tackle because I just think it’s a really important position, protecting Ryan’s blindside, keeping him clean. I just thought that was a really important position that I wanted to take a stab at.”

Twin brother Jeremy doesn’t play any sports at the school, but he puts in the time in front of the computer screen of his laptop creating impressive graphic designs for the football team and whatever else inspires him in the world of sports.

So impressive that there would be no way of knowing he is legally blind.

One of the graphics Jeremy Calo has designed for the Lancaster football team.

Jeremy was born two minutes after Jacob with albinism, which left his skin lacking pigmentation, his hair white, his eyes blue and his vision impaired.

“It’s not much colors,” Jeremy said. “It’s more distance because I feel like the glasses just make everything less blurry. It doesn’t really help with seeing farther. I’m pretty sure my vision is 20/200. I heard I’m toward the better end of it.”

Typical vision is 20/20, which means that a person sees the same line of letters at 20 feet that another person also with normal vision sees at 20 feet. At least 20/40 vision is needed In order to pass a driver’s license test.

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, legal blindness is medically diagnosed when the visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction.

“For example, I can’t read that thing on the desk there,” Jeremy said, pointing to a nameplate sitting less than six feet away. “I can’t read that name.”

“He still sees stuff still and I’m like, ‘You sure you’re legally blind?’ ” Jacob said.

“I guess I kind of got used to it,” Jeremy added. “With everything I did, like when I used computers I learned the control-plus increases the screen. I just learned to start doing different things that will help with my vision.”

Jeremy grew up playing sports with his brother, soccer when he was younger and basketball at the local rec league. He even gave modified football a shot.

“I always liked playing sports growing up,” Jeremy said. “I played football in seventh grade and I think it was the second play of like a scrimmage. We were doing goalline and I was playing nose guard. I guess I ended up on the bottom and someone rolled over and broke my wrist.”

Just like that, his football career was over before it started.

“Yeah it ended short,” Jeremy said. “I guess toward then it kind of stopped, because I played basketball until I was 16.”

Jacob, meanwhile, was one of the many Legends on the current varsity squad who grew up together playing for the youth football program in Lancaster.

“I would love being able to play with my twin brother. I think that would be so cool, but unfortunately with his vision impaired, it makes it kind of tough,” Jacob said. “But playing basketball with him, it was fun being able to play with your twin like that. When I go out there and I play [football], I try to play for him a little bit, too, to do the best I can.”

Lancaster football twin brothers Jacob, left, and Jeremy Calo are both part of Legends football. (Harry Scull Jr./ Buffalo News)

While Jacob, who's 6-foot, has held his own in the trenches, he wishes he could take a few inches off his brother, who stands 6-foot-5.

“Sometimes I call him little brother, and he’s five inches taller than me,” Jacob said. “I would love it.”

Jeremy never considered himself the artistic type, but he came across something in March of 2014 that struck a chord.

“I think it was a month after I made my Instagram page. After a while I realized, like, my life isn’t that exciting,” Jeremy quipped. “I don’t have a lot to post. So eventually I saw somebody who was doing that same thing, and I was like, ‘That looks pretty cool. I wonder if I can do that.’ I downloaded some apps on my phone and started messing around.”

“I just think it’s crazy,” Jacob said. “I asked him before and he said he basically taught himself. He went on Photoshop just experimenting with different tools. He’s never really taken any real classes on it.”

Jeremy did take one class at the school. It helped with learning how to use the desktop version of Photoshop.

“But for the most part, it’s click on this and see what it does,” Jeremy said. “I’ll sit there for a while and start putting shapes and different things down.”

Jeremy, who has nearly 1,500 followers on his @jc.designs Instagram account, will peruse the app and find inspiration on other accounts.

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A post shared by JeremyCalo (@jc.designs) on

Sometimes he’ll take elements from a few different graphics and combine them to create something new. Other times he’ll just sit in front of his computer with a black square and start putting random shapes together.

“And eventually after a while it’ll just turn into something I kind of like,” Jeremy said.

And finished products that the players on the Lancaster football team look forward to seeing, too.

Some players come to him with requests to edit a graphic of them. Other times Jeremy does it on his own.

“When the players on the team come to me and ask me, I enjoy doing it,” Jeremy said. “I’m happy when they ask me to do something for them. I think it’s cool. ... They usually really like them.”

“And as players we really appreciate it, too,” Jacob said. “The guys, I talk to them more than he does. They come to me and they’re like, ‘Your brother’s edit was awesome.’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know how he does it,’ but it’s incredible. He’s got a skill.”

Twin brothers Jeremy, left, and Jacob Calo at Lancaster's historic Foyle-Kling Field. (Harry Scull Jr./ Buffalo News)

Depending on how many people are in the graphic, the normal edit for Jeremy takes somewhere between an hour or two. It wasn’t always that easy, though.

“I’d say it took the three years ago when I started doing it” to get good, Jeremy said. “The other day I was looking back and I was like, yeaaa, I hope nobody goes down here and sees these.”

Graphic design is something that Jeremy hopes to eventually turn into a career. He’s looked at a couple of colleges and programs for next year but hasn’t narrowed one down just yet.

Jeremy Calo's graphic art has become a passion.

“The hard work he’s putting in, I look at that and I ask him, ‘How long did that take you?’ He just says, ‘Oh, a couple hours,’ ” said Jacob, who would like to become a physician assistant. “I always strive to do my best at whatever it is. It could be the most minute game we’re playing, but I’m so competitive so I always try to do my best. That definitely does push me, seeing all the hard work he does.”

Jeremy’s often there in the stands watching Jacob’s hard work pay dividends on the field. He likes to go to all the home games and will attend the closer away games. (He opted out of the hour and a half trip to Jamestown in Week Six.)

“It always feels good to hear his name called out when they bring him out,” Jeremy said.

“I appreciate him supporting me, too, because that means a lot,” Jacob said. “And even with the edits he makes, too, that’s really cool. I think it’s generous because it’s not just me. He does it for other guys on the team.”

Many of the guys on that team helped snap Lancaster’s 17-year drought between the program’s second and third sectional titles last season, but the run ended in the Far West Regionals to eventual state runner-up Victor of Section V.

Legendary triumph; Lancaster ends title drought

And while the ultimate goal starts with winning back-to-back Section VI championships for the first time in school history, that's not all the Legends have their sights set on this time around.

“It’s definitely been an amazing year so far being undefeated through the regular season and just, I don’t really want to brag, but just the domination we’ve been putting on other teams,” Jacob said. “That’s definitely good, but I think we just have to keep working hard to keep it up and finish what we started this season, which our eventual goal is to be state champs.”

If the Legends earn a shot at the Class AA state title on Sunday, Nov. 26, Jeremy might not even mind taking the long car ride to the Carrier Dome.

“I think it’s great,” Jeremy said. “It’s awesome how great they’ve been doing. I think they can go further than they did last year. They’re just as good of a team.”

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