Nazareth O-line honors historic unit from football’s past

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LaGRANGE PARK — At the end of each practice, the Nazareth offensive linemen bring their hands in a circle for a quick chant at the count of three: “Hogs!”

But if you ask individual members of the all-senior unit, which has served as the backbone of the Roadrunners’ 2-0 start, none of them knows what the “Hogs” reference signifies. The chant was suggested by their coaches but never explained.

“I don’t know. It has something to do with being an offensive line,” left tackle Jack Shutack said.

The original Hogs blocked for the Washington Redskins in the 1980s: tackles Joe Jacoby and George Starke, guards Russ Grimm and Mark May and center Jeff Bostic. Nazareth’s current version of the Hogs are tackles Shutack and John Kilcommons, guards Mike Owens and Patrick Kilcommons and center John Brunory. The Kilcommons brothers are identical twins.

The team’s offense has invented a “Hug a Hog” ritual during games.

“When one of the skills guys scores a touchdown, it’s required that one of the first guys you have to go to is one of the fat kids and hug him,” Owens said.

Owens said that ritual was borrowed from Alabama coach Nick Saban.

Like many offensive linemen, each of Nazareth’s four returning starters dreams of scoring a touchdown someday:

  • Left tackle Jack Shutack, 6-6, 290 pounds, from Western Springs: “I have definitely thought about that. It’s opening up a huge hole for a running back on the goal line. The linebacker comes in, fills the hole, kills the running back and the ball pops out right into me and I take it, hit a few guys into the end zone.”
  • Left guard Mike Owens, 6-4, 275, from Western Springs: “I have scored a touchdown [before as a fullback in sixth grade]. I used to be a defensive lineman. I started playing offensive linemen [here] when they needed O-linemen for my sophomore year. I do miss it (scoring). But I know offensive line is now my main role.”
  • Right guard Patrick Kilcommons, 6-3, 285, from Stickney: “I’d say it’s a wide receiver screen pass. He drops the ball right into my hands. This actually happened to me, but I caused an interception. I was so mad. It bounced off my hands and the [defensive] kid dove for it. That would be my dream: to catch it and run with it.”
  • Right tackle John Kilcommons, 6-4, 300, from Stickney: “I’d say if on a screen, the quarterback throws and it dings off a kid’s helmet and it went into an open space, and I caught it. I run all the way. I outrun everyone and maybe stiff-arm a kid into the ground.”
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