Hedgesville High offensive line coach Glen Simpson started his Saturday at 4 a.m.
He needed to double-check his team's paperwork before the Eagles started the 90-minute drive from their West Virginia school at 6 a.m. for the 11th Annual New Oxford Colonial Lineman's Challenge.
"We were waiting anxiously to get up here," Simpson said. "You couldn't wipe the smile off their faces."
The Eagles learned of the competition when a Dallastown coach told one of the players' parents. Simpson thought it would be an excellent opportunity for his so-called non-skill players.
"Building that esprit de corps is going to pay dividends," he said, "not only for this season, but seasons to come. There's not a lot for offensive linemen. There's a lot of 7-on-7 camps at every university. The offensive linemen, as much as any group, have to perform as a unit."
Schools split into four-person teams composed of linemen and tight ends. One of Dallastown's squads won the team competition, and Catoctin, located in Thurmont, Md., finished second. Waynesboro was third.
Dallastown's Zaire Lawrence won the individual Iron Lineman competition with 18 points.
The day began with the individual competitions: bench-pressing 185 pounds, pushing a wooden sled 20 yards, running through an obstacle course and flipping a 225-pound tractor tire 10 times.
Following that was the team competition, which included pushing a school bus 30 yards, running an obstacle course, running a dumbbell relay, throwing a medicine ball and a tug-of-war.
"I think it's awesome," first-year New Oxford head coach Jason Thurston said. "I think the best part of it is they're competing against kids at other schools. All they see is their teammates. To see what other schools have is good."
Thurston was in charge for the first time after bringing teams as the offensive line coach at Shippensburg from 2007-09 and in 2010 while at Carlisle. He figured his new responsibility would be challenging.
"A lot of organization," Thurston said. "The first
The event provided his linemen and tight ends the opportunity to continue progressing. The Colonials are changing from a run-focused triple-option offense to a Wing-T, which is run-oriented, but with some passing.
"I've always felt, and I'll say this until the day I die, your offense is really no good without a line," Thurston said. "Your line is the heart and soul. In order for them to jell and communicate the way they need to on Friday nights, they gotta spend time together doing things like this."