Jacob Russ helped Arlington score a first place finish in tire flip at the state lineman challenge tournament. Mary Frances Nelson Courtesy photo
Jacob Russ helped Arlington score a first place finish in tire flip at the state lineman challenge tournament. Mary Frances Nelson Courtesy photo

Arlington Citizen-Journal

Arlington football players win state in lineman challenge

Special to the Star-Telegram

July 06, 2017 5:39 PM

For Trey Felts and his fellow Arlington High lineman, football success on fall Friday nights begins in the summer. When it comes to flipping tires, stacking dumbbells and moving oversized sleds in the Texas heat, no one can match the Colts’ lineman challenge team.

The squad, which comprises members of the Colts’ offensive line and defensive front seven, recently took home the lineman challenge state title against the big boys from Odessa High, Midland Lee and other Texas football powerhouses. This year’s state competition, which was in late June in Abilene, represents the eighth lineman challenge state title for Arlington in the past 10 years.

“It’s one way to compete in the off-season,” said Felts, a senior offensive and defensive lineman. “It’s another way to make sure you’re still getting progress in the off-season as a unit.”

It’s pretty heavy. It’s a big tire.

Arlington left tackle Jacob Russ on the tire flip competition

The Colts won five events at state: bench press, tire flip, dumbbell stack, power drive, and monster sled. All of these interestingly named activities have this in common: they require feats of strength, loads of stamina and a group of teammates working together toward a common goal.

“We all work as one, so it’s no individuals at all,” senior defensive lineman Theron Bellard said. “We put in the work every year, every off-season, every summer in the weight room, out of the weight room. So it really translates to the lineman challenge.”

Senior left tackle Jacob Russ helped Arlington score a first place finish in tire flip. In that event, each participant is tasked with flipping a heavy-duty tire four times.

“It’s pretty heavy,” Russ said. “It’s a big tire.”

In monster sled, Felts didn’t have to push an imposing tractor tire. His task might have been even more absurdly difficult. He had to slide his teammates, standing on a sled, 30 yards in one direction and 30 yards back. His teammates on either side of the sled spent 30 yards riding and 30 helping push. But it was Felts’ job, in the back, to push the entire way. The first run didn’t go so smoothly at the midpoint change over from riders to pushers. But his group won in their second attempt.

“The first time wasn’t so bad,” Felts said. “Then we had to turn around and do it again five minutes later. I couldn’t feel my legs afterward.”

Senior tight end/fullback Graham Shank, who helped Arlington win the dumbbell stack, said the Colts aren’t always the strongest and fastest in the field — but they’re always the most determined. At the first lineman challenge event in the late spring, Arlington finished second overall. Shank and his teammates didn’t let that sort of shortcoming happen again.

“At the beginning of the year, we went to one and got second place, and we got together and said, ‘This isn’t good enough,’” Shank said. “We want to win.”

Given that linemen receive less attention at times than the stat-heavy positions like quarterback and receiver, the lineman challenge presents these under-the-radar standouts with a chance to take center stage.

“It’s our time to shine,” senior offensive guard Kylan Morris said. “Since it’s my last year, I’m glad we went back and won state.”

The confidence the lineman challenge squad gains from the summer competition seems to carry over to the regular season. “I think we’ll be pretty good both sides of the line: dominant, dominant part of our game,” Russ said. “If we’re big and strong like the challenge shows, then we should have a pretty good year.”

Sports digest

Baseball

Arlington Martin product Tristen Lutz, drafted by Milwaukee in the 34th round of the MLB draft, signed with the big-league club instead of accepting his scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin. He reportedly will receive a signing bonus of over $2.3 million.

This year’s District MVP, Lutz batted .430 with 11 home runs and 49 RBI en route to being selected to the first team of the Star-Telegram super team.

Soccer camp

The Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA is registering for a youth soccer camp for ages 5-14 to be held Aug. 7-10 at the Cooper Street YMCA.

Participants will learn new skills and drill on fundamentals, emphasizing teamwork and sportsmanship. Players must bring shin guards, a water bottle and a soccer ball.

Information: amaymca.org/programs/youth-sports

Stephen English: senglish@star-telegram.com, @sbenglish74

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