Dr. John Boyajian doesn't get too fancy when asked about being an otolaryngologist.
"I'm an ear, nose and throat specialist," Boyajian said. "I deal strictly with sinuses."
The 1964 Hammond grad and all-state quarterback operates the Sinus Center-Idaho and Allergy Clinic-Idaho. The 1992 Hammond Hall of Fame inductee was recently inducted into the Indiana Football Coaches Association's Region I Hall of Fame.
With all of his success in the medical field, Boyajian still remembers the 1962 Hammond-Morton football game in which he led the Wildcats to the win and the mythical state championship. It also pitted future Hall of Fame coaches Bernie Krueger of Hammond and Maurey Zlotnik of Morton.
"Coach Kruger went to the shotgun in the second half of that game; that is why we won," Boyajian said. "We surprised them. We were strictly an Iowa T-formation with quarterback always under center. The shotgun was only put in place for a special occasion. I hesitated on using it because I was afraid Coach would want to go to an East Chicago Roosevelt single wing.
"Instead of the old single wing, we ran it the whole second half."
He recalls the great players including Wildcat teammates Chuck Duncan and Gary Love, and Morton's Bob Guzek.
"We had some great teams at Hammond and great coaches," Boyajian said. "People can't understand that we had about 8,000 people at that game. We had good crowds. Back then it was high school football on Fridays, Big Ten on Saturdays and the Bears on Sunday."
In 1963, his senior year, he was named all-state along with Evansville Rex Mundi quarterback Bob Griese.
As exciting as his prep career was at Hammond, he played for a Wisconsin program which was struggling under coaches Milt Bruhn and John Coatta.
"I went to Wisconsin for the academics and because Milt Bruhn liked to pass," Boyajian said. "Coach Coatta, he was a former Badger quarterback. I remember the 1963 Rose Bowl when Ron Vender Kelen almost passed them to an upset of USC."
In Boyajian's three years on varsity, the Badgers were 5-22-3. They were 0-9-1 in 1967, which was his senior year. He was all-Big Ten honorable mention and won the program's Ivy Williamson Trophy. It is awarded to a senior football player showing sportsmanship and academic success.
From Madison, Wis., he passed on a tryout with the San Diego Chargers of the AFL and went to the Indiana University School of medicine in Indianapolis. He originally was going to be an orthopedic surgeon, but decided to pursue a career in otolaryngology.
While at the IU medical school, he met his wife, Chris. They have been married for 40 years and have three children and two grandchildren. Boyajian did head west to finish his surgical internship and residency at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, Calif. He started his first practice in Sonoma, Calif., in 1978.
He moved to Idaho in 1995 and joined the Grefenson Clinic.
"Everyone has sinus problems and some do not respond to the regular treatments," Boyajian said. "We try to help people alleviate those problems, and sometimes that is by surgery."
He said it was a thrill to be honored by the Region I football coaches and he thought back to those tough times at Wisconsin. He and Coatta both held the program and Big Ten record for 10 completions in a row.
"We really struggled and it was tough because I was not used to losing," Boyajian said. "I remember talking with Coach Coatta and he told me, 'John, if you just are patient, good things will come to you.' Well, almost 50 years later, a good thing happened."