HS Football: Bigmen Duke it Out at the 2024 Warzone Lineman Challenge

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 06/08/2024


WILLIS, TX -- After taking the 2023 Lineman Challenge State title, the Willis Wildkats hosted the 2024 events under a sweltering sun that did little to impede the all-out efforts from the big-bodied participants.

Along with the Wildkats, Caney Creek, Grand Oaks, and Oak Ridge sent their offensive and defensive linemen to test their stuff in events that embodied every aspect of the position.

Strength, technique, stamina, and speed were all measured somehow throughout the events. The bench press, tire flip, and medicine ball throw tested strength, the power drive pushed technique and stamina, dumbbell stacks and the sled push forced teams to be fast and strong, the farmers carry pushed stamina to the limit, and the obstacle course pushed all of the elements together in one grueling burst to the finish line.

The athletes gave their all in the respective events under the supervision and advisement of their coaches.

No event saw a more significant strategy than the bench press. While simple in concept, the trust between a coach and the person assigned each weight was substantial.

With Grand Oaks up to the test, the coaches present decided to trust Tyler Grant with the 225-lb. weight assignment. Needing to push past ten reps, Grant gathered his strength and blazed past the previous high mark with 17 clean presses. Each press along the way was emphasized by the group cheers from the coaches and teammates who crowded the bench while Grant reached his mark.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, Grant explained how the constant screams and cheers from those around him helped to encourage each push.

“My team was there, and my coaches were there to support me,” said Grant. “It was hyping me up, so I had the energy to do 17 reps and push through it.”

Outside, under the nearly 100? heat, the farmers carry pressured speed and stamina against the athletes. Each lineman had to carry significant weight through twists and turns before a ten-yard sprint to the goalline where their leg ended.

The daunting task of being the anchor and final member of the five-man squad to cross the goalline fell on Oak Ridge’s Abel Perez. His work as the final member of one of Oak Ridge’s two squads demonstrated a steady level of stamina with strength and speed to push through in the final crucial moments of his team’s run.

His simple yet effective mindset fueled his final ten yards through the goal line.

“I was just telling myself not to drop it and finish strong,” said Perez. “My goal was just to help my team get a faster time.”

A similarly simple mindset went to Caney Creek’s Moises Vega, who kicked the team off in the tire flip.

The tire flip tested the strength in multiple parts of the body while measuring stamina, demonstrating another level of strategy as to who would take what leg of the event. The coaches for Caney Creek entrusted the start to Vega, whose simple mindset got the team moving in the right direction.

“I’m just going to flip it and get the quickest time. It's as simple as that,” explained Vega. “My coaches told me that it was all on me as a great starter and as a role model for the underclassmen. So I just gave it my best.”

Vega’s opening effort enabled the rest of the squad to ride a similar energy to the finish, resulting in the Panthers holding one of the better times among the participants.

In addition to some newer faces seeing the events for the first time, returning Challenge Champion Mason Isbell made his mark on the Wildkat team.

A combination of strength and speed that has attracted multiple division one looks, Isbell’s connection to his teammates aided Willis in making another statement at the 2024 events.

“It came down to good team chemistry overall,” said Isbell. “We talk about everything we’re doing in practice every day. We have SAK camp, and we have our own workouts to make sure we get prepared.”

The combined efforts of Isbell and the rest of the Wildkats propelled the team to a second-place finish in terms of total points. Only the Klein Collins Tigers mustered a more significant effort, but the strong showing promises excellent production for the upcoming 2024 football season.

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