UNION MILLS — As coach-player relationships go, the connection between South Central coach Buzz Schoff and Satellites senior lineman Logan Notaro is different than most, almost brotherly in nature.
"If you take me as a high school senior, take away the long hair and glasses, we're probably the same individual," Schoff said during Thursday's team dinner. "He's goofy, but given the right situation, the right environment, he does get down to business when he has to. That's why I can relate to him. That's how I am. If it's goof off time, I'm goofing around. When it's time to get serious, I'm the first one to get serious, too."
Schoff won't go as far as dressing like Uncle Sam for a school event when it's not a planned dress day, but he relates to Notaro's life of the party personality, a quality he's always had, according to his mom, Sarah.
"At first, we bumped heads like crazy. We're the same personality," Notaro said. "We worked the concession stand together, we're throwing hot dogs at people, the popcorn's not buttered enough, so we're yelling at them. I like to stand out in a crowd. I can fit in, but it's not as fun as me wearing red, white and blue when it's not even spirit week. I like to lead by example, be a good fellow peer to students. I'm having a lot of fun this year, laying it all on the line. My dream is to go to Purdue and do ROTC next year. There's no partying in ROTC."
Initially, Schoff didn't quite get why Notaro was gravitating toward him, but eventually just decided to roll with it.
"He's saying this now but he still won't go raccoon hunting with me," Notaro said. "He said we were going to go duck hunting."
"We're not doing guns together," Schoff said.
When Notaro was struggling with the Math end of the SAT, Schoff tutored him and his score jumped 70 points.
"It's awesome," Notaro said. "He's a mentor. We always get a (weight room) pump in the seventh hour."
After most games this season, they've gone to Archie's in La Porte for a midnight Hobo Burger and cheese fries. During basketball season, the two get together, usually with somebody else tagging along, and go out to eat before the game.
"There are a lot of places in Valpo I've never eaten at, but he's eaten at all of them," Schoff said. "We tried baseball, but baseball games obviously start earlier and it was over when we got back. We get here, it's the fourth quarter of the JV (basketball) game, we'll sneak in the back door and nobody knows any better."
Notaro's also a member of the Nitro Ball Club that Schoff started at the high school. For those who don't know, it's a popular gym class game that morphs concepts of volleyball and tennis.
"Players come and go, but the hard part is going to be, 'When I'm having a bad day, who can I go to that I know that I can say whatever to and it's going to put a smile on my face walking away?'" Schoff said.
Not that Notaro hasn't occasionally crossed the line.
"My sophomore year, we had this awesome (fake punt) play where we called a cadence, the snap would go to me and I'd hand it off like jet motion or run the ball," he said. "I never get to do that. At the beginning of the year, I was sad we didn't have the play anymore, so I decided on my own to run the play. I called an audible. It was a touchdown. Granted, we were on the 10-yard line. I never called my own play again. I had to run a lap around the field."
Schoff said Notaro's severe lack of catching skills are a big reason he's a lineman.
"It's why we don't snap him the ball," Schoff said. "There is a fake punt play, but him being him, it's, 'What if we did this?' Let me show you. I'm like, 'OK, we're never going to do that.'"
In the third quarter of last week's lopsided loss to Hanover Central, Notaro, in his own inimitable way, still managed to break the ice.
"Everyone's so mad, we're yelling at each other, Jake (Osburn) and I are telling everyone just have fun," he said. "You can't cry over spilled milk. Just play."
At one point, a Hanover player was calling out S.C.'s Brendan Carr for holding and Notaro even teased Carr for a weak comeback.
"I never noticed before this game, but every comeback he has is a two-word statement. It's ridiculous," Notaro said. "You're 6-8 and act like you're 5-8. These guys aren't intimidated by you at all."
"In the heat of the moment," Schoff added, "you can still call out your buddy."
Had Notaro won the class president election, he was going to pitch the idea of zip lining onto the podium.
"I think (principal Ben) Anderson was a little nervous," he said.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), Notaro lost.
"Our class president gives a speech at graduation," Schoff said. "How's that going to go?"
Notaro played Little League baseball years back, actually hitting a grand slam off future Satellite Kaleb Sample.
"They never found it," he said.
Now an umpire, he settled upon football in middle school and has played since. His trademark has become the shoulder-length hair he's fashioned for over two years.
"I use a lot of conditioner," he said. "I had a mohawk once but I didn't like it. Everyone nowadays is high and tight, shaved on the side. I want to see if I can get an afro."
An aspiring helicopter pilot who's recently taken an interest in the law, Notaro knows that if he does get into an ROTC program, the flow will have to go.
"It's going to be tough," he said. "I'll definitely be crying when it goes. People won't know who I am anymore, kind of like (Schoff) if he shaved his beard."