FOOTBALL

Linemen introduced in a hog trailer? Inside Byron's wild playoff football tradition

Jay Taft
Rockford Register Star

BYRON — The Byron football team is accustomed to earning a home game to start the playoffs, or at least at some point in the postseason.

And fans have grown accustomed to a wild tradition that comes along with those home playoff games: When the team corrals its linemen inside a hog trailer and drives them into the stadium.

They call the Byron linemen "the hogs," after all.

Why Byron's linemen enter in a hog trailer

Once the trailer arrives on the track in front of the crowd, the linemen aggressively get the large metal car rocking back and forth, and the fans really start getting fired up.

After a short stint of rocking, the linemen come barreling out of the back of the trailer to the roar of the home crowd. Shortly after, the team kicks into its pregame routine.

"I can't think of a better way to get the crowd really going before a playoff game," said Tyler Reed, two-way starter on the line.

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Reed has been driven in on the trailer for a playoff game three times now after Friday night's entrance prior to Byron's first-round matchup. (They skipped the tradition in 2020-21 because of COVID-19.)

"And it's just super cool for the linemen, you know," Reed said. "We don't get any stats, we don't get our names in the paper very often. So this gets us our moment."

No one knows for sure exactly what year it started, but it began sometime in the early-1990s, and it grew and grew until it was a full-blown tradition by the time Byron won its first state championship in 1999. Coach Jeff Boyer was the star quarterback for that squad, and then became the head coach that led the Tigers to their second state title last year.

"This thing has just become such a tradition, and the linemen, the rest of the team, the fans, everybody just loves it," Boyer said. "And, well we have a lot of farmers around here in Byron, so it's not hard to find a trailer."

Byron's Jake Kann, 66, and Colton Weick, 64, lead the Byron frontline off the hog trailer before their playoff game against Lisle on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. Byron went on to win 52-7.

Who furnishes the trailer?

For a long time, it's been Matt Miller's family's trailer. He was the center for that 1999 state title squad, and he later became a farmer in the area. He rode in on his family's trailer during playoff games back in his day, and now he provides the trailer when they need it for today's linemen — and even drives them in on it.

"I do it for Byron, and I do it for the kids; but it's pretty fun for me, too," Miller said. "It's a pretty special thing. When it gets to be this time of year, you kind of know it's coming. ... The fans just love it."

And the players, then and now, sure do appreciate it.

"The whole place just goes crazy," Reed said. "How could you get them more fired up than that?"

Jay Taft is a Rockford Register Star sports reporter. Email him at jtaft@rrstar.com and follow him on Twitter at @JayTaftSign up for the Rockford High School newsletter at rrstar.com. Jay has covered a wide variety of sports, from the Chicago Bears to youth sports, for more than 20 years at the Register Star, and for nearly 30 years all together.