RHS linemen win competitionPublished 12:03pm Wednesday, August 7, 2013
One of the most important groups on any high school football team is the line. Offensive and defensive linemen are often times the unsung heroes of the team, as every play on either side of the ball starts with those players.
One of the biggest challenges that besets linemen is the need to be stronger than the opponents lined up on the other side of the ball on game day.
Thanks to an event held recently, the Russellville Golden Tigers and head coach Michael Jackson have a good indication of just how strong the linemen corps is at Russellville High School.
“We went to Huntsville and competed in what they call the O-Line/D-Line Challenge,” Jackson said. “Each team gets points for how high your kids place in each event. The team with the most points at the end wins a team trophy.”
There were five events in the challenge: 185-pound bench press for reps, a medicine ball toss, a tire flip for time, a 20-yard timed sled pull and a 20-yard wooden sled push.
“We finished first, Hazel Green was second and Sparkman was third,” Jackson said. “It’s a good judge of where our linemen are at. Braxdon Dempsey finished second overall, and Chris Hill finished third overall.
“It’s exciting to know that our big men can win a contest like this, because it takes years to build up enough strength to be able to win those contests.
“There’s not much skill involved in it; it’s all the way you are conditioned. Our guys that did well in the contest have been training for years to do that.”
Taking first place is a big accomplishment given the level of competition Russellville faced in the challenge, but this was not the only reason teams competed in the event. Jackson, much like the other coaches at the challenge, now know where their lines stand against competition from other schools.
“What we want to be known for, as a team, is being physical,” he said. “The first part of being physical is being strong. If you’re not stronger than your opponent, it’s hard to be more physical than they are because they will overpower you.
“It’s a great indicator of where our offensive and defensive lines are. That group has to have strength in order for you to be successful in high school football.
“90 percent of the teams that win in high school are teams that can run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense.”
Jackson also said how much he was looking forward to the upcoming season and seeing how much his guys have improved during the offseason.
“Those guys have put in a lot of work this summer, and we’re in camp right now trying to get better every day,” he said. “It’s a long season, and it’s all a process of getting a little bit better each day.”