For an offensive line type of guy like Seth Replogle, winning Hog Wars is particularly satisfying.
The new Overland football coach got a big push of momentum toward the upcoming 2012 season from his group that won the strength competition among Aurora prep linemen on July 11 at Rangeview High School.
In the closest overall competition to date in the eight-year event, a four-way tie was broken when the Trailblazers outpulled Gateway’s B team in the tug o’ war to gain custody of the traveling trophy for the first time.
Replogle moved to 1-0 at Hog Wars and saw affirmation from the senior-heavy group of Anthony Childs, Eddie Jung, Malik Humphries, Amer Tipura, Aaron Charleston, Santiago Medina and MarQueice Hopkins that he has the makings of a cohesive trench unit that could key a turnaround.
“I’m an O-Line guy by nature and that’s what I’ve usually coached,” said Replogle, who spent the past five seasons as head coach at The Academy in Westminster.
“The game is won and lost on the line and at Overland, we have some great skill athletes, but now we have a line that will compete and get after it every day,” added Replogle, who immediately called athletic director Ron Garcia y Ortiz with the news of victory.
The Trailblazers definitely have a different feel from last season, in which they went through the midseason departure of coach Ron Woolfork and finished 1-9, beating only Montbello in a non-playoff Week 10 contest.
Pushing each other through the often-grueling events at Hog Wars — the 140-pound farmer’s carry, monster truck tire flip relay, 125-pound “log” press, firetruck push and tug o’ war — served to strengthen a bond Overland’s linemen believe will serve them well in 2012.
“Our season last year wasn’t too good, but we’re looking for a turnaround this year,” said Humphries, who anchored the winning tug o’ war unit.
“We have each other’s backs 100 percent and we’re all brothers. We don’t worry about anybody else, we just do us.”
Besides showing teamwork and physical prowess in going toe-to-toe with teams from Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest, Gateway and Rangeview, the Trailblazers gained confidence, which is vital at this stage for momentum.
Things will be different when skill players are added to the mix, but the Overland linemen will try to use the Hog Wars boost through a 10-day team camp that’s final prep before official practice begins in mid-August.
“It’s a great way to start the season and you always want to start it on a good note,” Childs said. “There’s no better feeling at this point; we need to keep it going.”
Gateway won the Hog Wars championship for the first time in 2011 and rode the boost to a strong season and Class 5A state playoff appearance.
Coach Justin Hoffman’s two teams were in contention the whole time and finished second and third behind Overland.
The Olys’ B team of Darius Harvey, Junior Gutierrez, Jose Marrufo, Abdelaziz BenQadi, Shane Yeo and Cameron Almond won the farmer’s carry relay and could have taken the overall championship by winning the tug o’ war, but still topped teammates Zack Golditch, Mohammed Sumbunu, Zach Russell, Jack Engleson, Devin Johnson and Jonah Mitchell in a show of depth.
“What that tells us is we have 12 guys who can come in and play at any time,” Hoffman said.
Rangeview coach Dave Gonzales and the Raiders had to watch the traveling trophy depart for a second straight time after staying at home for the first five years.
“It just came down to little things this year, a second here, a rep there, we’ll keep working,” said Gonzales, whose team finished fourth, ahead of Cherokee Trail and Eaglecrest.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-750-7555