METHUEN — He may be a record-setting running back, but it never takes long for a discussion about Methuen's Ryan Savastano to quickly turn to his weight room prowess.
"Hands down he is the strongest player, with the highest bench press, on the team." — Coach Tom Tone.
"His bench press is insane. Even the people in the gym stop and say, 'Wow!'" — father and workout partner Ron Savastano.
"He's a monster in the weight room." — teammate Billy Parker.
"He's the strongest guy out there. He's just throwing up 275 or more no problem." — teammate Matt Whittaker.
Actually, his maximum bench press is 305 pounds — nearly twice the 5-6, 170-pound Savastano's weight. And he dead lifts over 450 pounds.
Oh, yeah, and he can play a little football, too.
One year ago, Savastano was an unknown junior with just 40 varsity rushing yards to his name.
Now, he is a reigning Eagle-Tribune All-Star with Methuen's modern area rushing record. He is set to show why he may be the area's premier running back.
"If anyone wants to challenge me, step right up," he said. "I want to show the league that Methuen is still here. I want to break my record from last year."
With 2011 Eagle-Tribune Boys Athlete of the Year Cal Carroll off to pitch at Stonehill, Savastano is now the go-to guy for the Rangers after rushing for 1,297 yards last season.
"Savy is the best running back in the league," said Whittaker. "He hits the holes, runs over people and has the agility to make people miss. He really stepped up last year."
Savastano, in fact, was not even the starter at the end of the 2010 preseason.