Morris linemen perform well at Bolingbrook challenge

BOLINGBROOK – Most of the time, linemen have the most thankless jobs on the football field. They are down in the trenches, beating up on each other, getting muddy and bloody and rarely getting noticed unless they do something wrong.

Wednesday was a day to change all that at the 35th Bolingbrook Lineman Challenge. It was a day for the big fellows who wear the big numbers to step out into the spotlight and shine in their own way. Morris fielded three of the 32 five-man teams at the event, and coach Alan Thorson was more than pleased with the way the Redskins performed. Final results were unavailable after the event, but will be reported once the coaches receive them.

The day consisted of seven events. There was the bench press, taking 185 pounds and bench-pressing it as many times as you can. Next was the 40-yard dash. Whether or not the course measured 40 yards was up for debate, given the times some of the players were coming back with. Many of the players were reporting times in the 4.3 to 4.5 second range. If the course was really 40 yards long, the Bolingbrook fieldhouse would have been filled with professional scouts if that many players were clocking NFL cornerback times as linemen. Regardless, everyone ran the same course, so it made the comparisons between individuals valid.

After the 40, there was the medicine ball toss, in which a player sat in a chair with his back against a wall and pushed/threw a medicine ball as far as he could. Then came the obstacle course, designed to measure agility. After hurdling four blocking dummies laid flat on the ground, the players crouched and ran in and out of five chutes, changing direction with each one, before turning a corner around a blocking dummy and moving backward and forward between four more. They then had to side-step over another, hit the ground, get back up and sprint to the finish. When that was over, there was the shuttle relay, in which you held a blocking dummy, carried it 10 yards to a partner, handed it off and that partner did the same until the team was finished. Finally, there was a blocking sled competition, in which the five members pushed a sled 15 yards as fast as they could.

The Redskins’ No. 1 team consisted of T.J. Layne, Andrew Faught, Ryan Niewinski, Mark Lincoln and Robbie Meucci. The No. 2 team was Eric Haish, Zach Hansen, Michael Galifos, Jackson Shannon and Matt Feiden, and the No. 3 team was made of Victor Toussaint, Brady Nicholson, Sean Mobley, Chase Hansen and Will Ringer.

In the bench press, the No. 1 team completed 98 reps in all, with Faught leading the way with 28. Lincoln was next with 22, followed by Niewinski (18), Meucci (16) and Layne (14). Galifos led the No. 2 team, which finished with 86, with 22 reps, followed by Haish (20), Feiden (16), Shannon (15) and Zach Hansen (13). Toussaint was the top lifter on the No. 3 team (66) with 18, followed by Ringer (14), Chase Hansen and Mobley (12 each) and Nicholson (10).

“I really wanted to hit 30,” Faught said. “But I still felt like I did pretty good. Anywhere close to 100 as a team is real good, and we got 98, so we felt pretty good about that. I wasn’t going to let it ruin my day. We had fun and all put up good numbers.”

Morris’ blocking sled time was 5.11 seconds for the first team, one of the best times of the day.

“We have been working hard as a team, and it showed,” said Layne, who is entering his third season of varsity play. “This summer so far has been about the backs and receivers with the 7-on-7s, so it was fun to get out here and see what we linemen could do.”

When all the events were completed, the teams got together for a tug-of-war tournament. Morris’ No. 3 team pulled off an upset of Elmhurst York’s No. 1 team in the first round before losing to Chicago Raby in the second. Morris’ No. 1 team beat Rich Central’s No. 3 in the first round before falling to Oswego’s No.1 in the second, and Morris’ No. 2 team lost to Bloom Trail’s No. 1 team in the opening round.

The event, while competitive, was all in good fun.

“All summer, these guys have been working hard in the weight room,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “It was nice to have them come out here and have fun and let off some steam. The backs get their 7-on-7s, so it was nice for these guys to see how they stack up against other teams’ linemen. I think our guys did a real good job.

“All these events are fun for these guys, but they do have a chip on their shoulders after going 3-6 last year. They wanted to show what they can do, and I think they did a real good job today.”