Talk about six degrees of separation. That theory, which says that all of the people on the planet are linked by no more than six shared acquaintances, seems to fit in well with former local football players.

They may be wearing different colors, playing under different coaches and attending different schools, but there is a bond that unites a half-dozen former Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference players.

Matt Domonkos is the senior member of the club, though he is only a junior in college. A Bishop McCort graduate, Domonkos is the backup kicker at Akron. He will likely have another former Crimson Crusher as a teammate next year if, as expected, Jose Cruz joins the Zips. Cruz is enrolled as a part-time student and will become a full-time student and be able to join the team for the spring semester.

Cruz’s former teammate at Bishop McCort, Shawn Lewis, will be on the opposite sideline from Domonkos on Thursday as Kent State plays at rival Akron in the “Battle for the Wagon Wheel.”

But the glue that holds it all together is another Bishop McCort alumnus: Andrew Hawkins. A sophomore wide receiver at Toledo – yet another Mid-American Conference school – Hawkins keeps in contact with his ex-teammates and former foes.

Hawkins talks with Todd Koenig, a Bishop Carroll graduate who plays safety at Ohio University, as well as LaRod Stephens-Howling, a Greater Johnstown alumnus who is now a freshman running back at Pitt.

“I talk to Shawn every week. I talk to LaRod every week,” Hawkins said, noting that he and Stephens-Howling have known each other since they first put on football pads. “I talk to all of those guys.”

As the only defensive player in the group, Koenig has had a few run-ins with the others.

He tackled Lewis during Ohio’s 35-32 victory over Kent State.

“It was kind of awkward at first,” Lewis admitted. “He said ‘What's up, little man?’ ”

The freshman wide receiver was too stunned to respond and just ran back to his huddle.

Hawkins, on the other hand, had no problem chatting with Koenig on the field. The Toledo wideout found himself blocking Koenig on a number of occasions.

“When we were out there on the field, it was real fun,” Hawkins said. “We were laughing and having a good time.”

Despite being limited to 9 yards on three catches, Hawkins had the better time as Toledo won the game 30-21.

“I’d have to say I won the first battle between us,” Hawkins said with a laugh.

Koenig, however, had the last laugh with Stephens-Howling. The Pitt freshman returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in their matchup on Sept. 9, but Koenig intercepted a pass in the end zone that helped the Bobcats upset the Panthers.

Lewis and Hawkins did not get a chance to reunite this season as their teams did not play, but they are anxiously awaiting the continuation of the series next year.

With most of their seasons over, Hawkins will try to get the region’s other collegiate players together again, as he did last summer.

“We work out together,” he said. “It’s easier to have guys going through the same things that you’re going through.”

He definitely shouldn’t be at a loss to find a workout partner.

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