Burnet High School linemen Christian (left) and Christopher Saldivar flip a tire.
JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
LLANO — As the linemen walked from the tug-of-war to play a game of one-on-one involving a medicine ball, Llano High School’s Colton Center turned to a visitor and said, “That’s what it’s like playing in the trenches. It’s one on one.”
Llano High School hosted a lineman’s challenge June 23 at the football practice fields and faced their counterparts from Burnet and Fredericksburg.
The Billies won the overall team competition thanks to a tug-of-war tiebreaker against the Bulldogs.
Before that, points were awarded for sprints, tire flips, three-person tug-of-war, medicine ball one-on-one and three-person crawls, in which one had to lift hand weights while two teammates each carried a leg about 10 yards.
Coaches for Llano and Burnet said the event revealed plenty of positives. One of the biggest is when linemen were not competing, they were cheering on their teammates. And that demonstrated the bond the players have.
“I saw a lot of competitors,” Burnet offensive line coach Ryan Jones said. “They’ve been in the weight room all summer. To come here, to see a different color jersey really fuels that fire. I know they’re all competitors, and they all want to win. That translated on the field.”
One of the events the Bulldogs took the most pride in was going one on one with the medicine ball. Each lineman tried to push, tug, slide, move and eventually pick up and throw the ball to the other side for the win. But the opponent was trying to do the same, so fans saw players of equal determination do everything they could to force his will on the other.
“That’s really a testament to come with the attitude of getting better,” Jones said. “They’re having a great time, they’re close. It’s a fun group to work with. They’re a tight-knit group, they’re brothers.”
Yellow Jackets head coach Craig Slaughter said the competition went about how coaches thought it would. He was pleased with the never-quit attitude he saw from his players. He also noted many of his linemen are still growing and going against more experienced competitors.
“We need to play with really good technique,” he said. “It’s not going to be line them up and smash them in the mouth.”
One area Slaughter would like to see improve is his players getting better and playing whistle to whistle.
During one of the tug-of-war contests against Fredericksburg, neither side was budging. When it looked like one side had it won, the other wouldn’t stop its momentum. It was by far the longest tug-of-war of the competition, taking about three minutes to decide. Finally, the Billies were proclaimed the winners.
Llano coaches went to one of the Jackets and emphasized staying in the competition until the whistle blew.
“That’s what we need to get better at,” Slaughter said. “One, you’re tired, and two, you start to give in at times.”
Overall, the coach said there were more positives from the one-hour competition.
“I think we kind of know where we’re at and what we need to do to be successful with the underdog mentality,” he said. “This is what I told them: We have to work to do well, we’ll continue to put the work in, and make the most of our talent.”