ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Our highlights “Overtime” Friday nights generally feature quarterbacks, running backs and receivers making big plays. That’s why they’re called playmakers, but the guys who make those plays possible are the guys banging away on the line of scrimmage. The guys who make their mark in the trenches.

“I think to play in the interior you have to be tough,” said Harlem Huskies assistant coach Ken Dubose. “You have to be someone that’s selfless, because it can be humbling in there depending on if you have one or two guys trying to attack you or if you’re trying to attack them.”

DuBose works with linemen at Harlem. He himself was one in college, a nose guard, maybe the toughest position on the line. What does he look for in a good lineman?

“Coaching ability is big and dependability, because you’re asking them to do the same things over and over again. When I’m looking at a guy, if he can move around a little bit, and he’s got decent size, that’s a plus, but if he can think the game (that’s very important), because we’re teaching you multiple techniques depending on what we’re trying to do.

Noah Hickcox played on the lines for Boylan back in his day. Then he played on the defensive lines at the University of Minnesota and at Illinois State. Now, he coaches Boylan’s offensive linemen.

I asked him what type of individual it takes to accept that role of not getting the spotlight, but getting pounded on at every snap of the football?

“Just a lot of selflessness. I think that when you look at what offensive and defensive linemen do, all they do is create opportunities for the guys behind them to make plays, and whether you do that job or you don’t do that job, something good or bad is going to happen off of that.”

So, finding a good lineman starts with finding guys who are selfless. Then there are some obvious characteristics like toughness and a little nastiness, and then guys who say this to themselves.

“The whole play has to run through me, and that’s what I want. I don’t want it to go anywhere else,” said Hickcox. “I want the ball to run behind me. I want them to run right at me because I know I’m going to stop it. When you get somebody like that, that’s when you know they’re pretty special.”

Boylan has its share of guys like that. So does Hononegah. One of them is 280-pound senior left guard Drake Broege. Since Broege has always been a big kid, he has always played on the lines going back to his Junior Indians days.

“I fell in love with the line at a young age, just being aggressive. Usually, you don’t get talked about it much. It’s just fun being with a group of guys and just get to be aggressive.”

We can all agree that playing on the line of scrimmage doesn’t come with a lot of glory, so coaching staffs and teammates try to go out of their way to show their appreciation for the linemen. One example is letting them be served first during team meals.

Maybe no team has found a better, more unique way of showing its appreciation for its linemen than Byron has. Before kickoff of the first home playoff game every season, Byron’s linemen are brought to the field in a big hog trailer. The players and the crowd go crazy.

“Line play at Byron’s a really important role, and we try to recognize them as much as possible,” said Byron coach Jeff Boyer. “We make that hog trailer, that’s a big deal for those kids, and they love it. I think our kids respond to that, and they’re excited about playing the offensive line here, so that’s kind of a way for us to say, you guys are awesome and thanks for doing a great job.”