They are the unsung heroes of every football game. The players who do the work, but never get the glory. They don’t score the touchdowns or get the interceptions, but without them, they game would be unrecognizable. They are the men up front who make it possible for the skill players to do their things. They are the linemen.
Tuesday night while Hobbs was hosting Lovington and Eunice in a 7-on-7, the Eagles also hosted the Wildcats and Cardinals linemen in a linemen challenge. The three teams competed in various individual and team drills before concluding the night with a one-on-one competition at midfield while the offensive and defensive skill players watched cheered them on.
“Just to be out there on the H (midfield), they live for that,” Hobbs offensive line coach Dylan Jett said. “They don’t get the credit on either side of the ball and they get a lot of the blame, but they are such selfless people. You can’t be selfish and play offensive or defensive line. But for everybody to be around them and hype up every single rep, they all had smiles on their faces.”
Lovington coach Anthony Gonzales was concise and to the point about the value of linemen to his team.
“If they don’t go, we don’t go,” the Wildcat’s coach said.
Gonzales is looking to replace two All-State linemen who graduated in May. He used Tuesday’s linemen challenge as a way to see which of his players are going to step up and fill the void left by the graduation of Alex Trammel and Justin Hazel.
“What we wanted to see tonight was who was going to step up and replace them and we saw that tonight. We had a lot of young guys get a bunch of reps … I was proud of that group, they did really good tonight.”
For the linemen, the evening’s events started inside the indoor facility. Eagle, Wildcat, and Cardinal linemen first did a weight lifting contest and then moved into sled pushing. After that, the linemen carried weights across the field before concluding with an obstacle course.
“The goal coming up here was to get better and to compete,” Eunice linemen coach Patrick Crowley said. “We try to do that every day no matter what we are doing. I am truly, truly blessed in I call them fat guys and little pukes. I am a fat guy, guy. That is what I do. I do what I do with those five up front. My world starts at one tackle and ends at the other tackle. Those little pukes outside of us and behind us, they do what they do. It is amazing, I have only been here three years and it is an amazing family bond these guys have developed. Most of these guys, this was there first fat man contest. Seeing them do what they do and as well as they competed today, it is going to do nothing but make them stronger.”
Crowley said his team works on many of the drills they competed in Tuesday back home in Eunice. He enjoyed getting to see his athletes compete as well as seeing what they could do against lineman from other teams.
“We run most of these drills,” Crowley said. “On the inside agilities we competed better than I thought we would. I didn’t think we were ready for the weight room, but I will take what we got. As far as the competition goes, going up against bigger schools and fast cats, and better hands is going to help us at our level unbelievably so.”
While there was a healthy crowd out in the Watson Memorial Stadium stands watching the offensive skill players throw and catch touchdown passes and the defensive skill players try to bat down and intercept passes, there was also a small crown inside the indoor facility cheering on the linemen as they showed what they could do.
“Everybody is so focused on 7-on-7 and it has its places, but for those guys who get to show what they can do and bench press, push sleds, jump over boxes, pull dummies, that is what they live for,” the Eagles’ offensive line coach said. “That is right in their wheel-house. They love it.”
For Lovington coach Anthony Gonzales, watching his players get to be physical against another team was the highlight. Gonzales’ athletes work on all sorts of drills and plays, but the Wildcat head coach said there is nothing better than getting to face live competition in a different jersey.
“The opportunity to compete, everything that we try to do in our conditioning program, we are trying to crate competition,” the Wildcats’ coach said. “They do a good job with that, but (tonight) you are against your rival and that is really the first time for three out of five of those offensive lineman and two of the starting defensive lineman are sophomores. Those guys coming out here, we get the opportunity to say we need you, can you step up to the plate and make a play. I think those guys did a good job tonight, I am proud of them.”
Lovington’s linemen will be back at it Thursday when the Wildcats host Clovis in a 7-on-7 at Brian Urlacher Field on Thursday. The Wildcats’ linemen will get another chance to show what they can do when they face the Clovis’ lineman.
Hobbs is hoping to get another lineman challenge schedule for Tuesday’s 7-on-7 at Watson Memorial Stadium. If not, the Eagles’ lineman will have to wait to show their stuff again until Thursday, July 22 when they head to Portales. Eunice is planning to head to Portales as well on July 22, so the Cardinals will have just over a week off before they get to compete again.
“Football is back. We didn’t get to do this last year,” Jett said. “I was just so happy to get to see the smiling faces, the hype, the coaches yelling, the emotions, it was great. It is so good to be back.”