Hinsdale Central seniors Max Hartzman and Brian Allen have been friends since first grade, so giving each other a hard time is nothing new.
“He’s a jokester,” Allen said of his buddy. “He’s always cracking jokes at people, even his friends. He makes people laugh. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but he’s always trying to get under people’s skin and then turns it into a joke. It’s a little aggravating and I want to hit him sometimes.”
Instead, the two save all of their hitting for the football field.
The 6-foot-2, 280-pound Hartzman is the team’s starting center and rotated between nose guard and defensive end for the first time this season in Saturday’s 37-7 loss to defending Class 7A state champion Glenbard West.
The 6-2, 290-pound Michigan State-bound Allen is an offensive and defensive tackle.
“It’s been a long, fun journey going through all the ups and downs with Brian,” Hartzman said. “We’ve been close for a long time. There’s a comfort knowing he’s there (on the line) with you.
“During the preseason he was at guard and I was the center, so we were next to each other and blocking the same guy with him was fun. We don’t really combo block with each other now, but having your best friend on the line is a nice aspect to playing.”
Hartzman is glad to be healthy this season. He suffered a shoulder injury right before last season’s opener. He played through the pain for a while, but eventually had season-ending surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
“As the year went on, it became more and more torn and (the doctors) told me I couldn’t play anymore because I could have permanent damage,” Hartzman said. “When I was in the doctor’s office it hit me all at once and I broke down. I was really sad. I had a special bond with the seniors last year and it meant a lot to be starting with them. It was very hard to be done for the year.”
Hartzman rolled an ankle during the loss in Glen Ellyn, but expects to be in the starting lineup for Saturday’s homecoming game against rival Lyons.
Hartzman hopes to play football in college and Allen has no doubt his friend will.
“We have similar qualities,” Allen said. “He’s a bigger guy like me. I wouldn’t say we’re fat, but we’re not exactly skinny. He’s pretty athletic for his size,” Allen said.
“We get around pretty well and like hitting people. Those are good traits to have for offensive linemen. It’s a good feeling to look over and know you’re playing with your friend and someone like him.”