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Maine South's Dan Poulos (58) and Maine South's Pat Maloney (73) protect the quarterback in the second half of the Hawks 45-14 win on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 in Park Ridge. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Believe it or not, Dan Poulos once played middle linebacker in high school.
With a body like his, that's a surprise.
The Maine South senior offensive lineman stands 6-2 and weighs 284 pounds. He almost looks like two linebackers.
But Poulos was a starting linebacker on Maine South's freshman B team. It wasn't until an injury to another player that he switched to the other side of the ball and to the line.
"It actually wasn't a bad transition, at least not as bad as I thought it would be," Poulos said.
"Offensive line seems like the worst position on the field because of what you do. You also don't get any attention. But I actually like it a lot. I'm glad this happened."
So are the Hawks.
Maine South, the No. 1 team in the Sun-Times poll, improved to 5-0 overall and 1-0 in the CSL South on Friday with its 45-14 win over New Trier.
For the second season in a row, Poulos, a left guard, plays alongside senior Pat Maloney and is 15-1 as a starter.
Maloney, a 6-3, 274-pound senior left tackle, is a three-year starter and committed to Ball State. Maloney helped the Hawks to a state title as a sophomore.
"I'd put those two up against anybody in the state," Maine South coach Dave Inserra said.
Poulos and Maloney are charged with providing protection to star quarterback Matt Alviti, who will play at Northwestern next season.
Behind the left side Friday, Alviti threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 161 yards and two scores.
"They make my life a lot easier," Alviti said. "They are great in the pass game and huge in the run game. Both are the leaders of the line. They help get the other guys ready."
Inserra feels like he won the linemen lottery with Poulos and Maloney.
"Danny is so smart, and Pat is a great communicator," Inserra said. "They work so well together. They know to practice and love being out there. They do things the right way, both physically and from a leadership standpoint.
"I'd put those two up against anybody in the state."
While Maloney's made his college decision, Poulos continues to explore his options. One of the top students at Maine South, Poulos owns a 33 ACT score. He's looking to play in the Ivy League, considering schools such as Dartmouth, Cornell, Penn, Brown, Yale and Princeton.
Poulos' brains are put to good use on the field, too.
"Every week the defense draws up something new to confuse us," said Poulos, who's taking a college-level calculus course through Oakton Community College this semester. "It's like a chess game, with all the blitzes, stunts, twists. To play on our line, you have to be smart because there are a lot of different blocking schemes. You have to be on top of it."
Maine South puts its 56-game Central Suburban South winning streak on the line at home
Friday against upstart Niles West, which is 5-0 after its 13-0 win over Waukegan.