Tim Rice, who coaches the offensive line at Etowah, was pleased with how his players performed.
“We have a great bunch a kids out here, but so do the other schools,” he said. “There are a couple of things we could have done better. It was fun. I think it’s fun for all the kids to compete.”
Rice said there was a little strategy that went into putting a solid group together. They tried to balance strength and agility.
“There are kids that can move well and do well in the drills and things that we have out there, but mostly, the kids that are good at the drill are your top kids in the season,” Rice said.
Etowah, Cherokee, Sequoyah and Woodstock were all represented in the event, as was King’s Academy, a Woodstock-based group of home-schooled players that compete under the Crown Athletics banner. Also participating were Woodland-Bartow and North Paulding.
The challenge pit five players against each other in six events — bench press, sled pull, pro agility, one-man sled drive, five-man sled drive and tire flip. Teams accumulate points based on how they rank in each of the events.
Most schools entered more than one five-man team, with Cherokee entering four groups. A total of 15 groups competed for the title.
Etowah’s winning squad ranked in the top three in each of the five events, showing that consistency matters.
“We push our kids real hard, and it’s nice to see them do well,” Rice said. “We have real good kids so they deserve it.”
Teams from Cherokee (bench press) and Sequoyah (tire flip) did well in individual events, but couldn’t put up consistently high marks.
Etowah scored 88 points, followed by North Paulding (82) and Woodstock (76). A second North Paulding team was fourth with 75 points.
Etowah, Sequoyah and North Paulding each ended up with two teams in the top seven. Sequoyah finished fifth and seventh.
Woodstock was more than a little disappointed with the loss. Defensive line coach Cory Nix hopes the players use the loss as motivation.
“When you are competing against Cherokee County teams, if you don’t win it, then they are looking for that top team in the season — whoever it is,” Nix said.
Still, he was pleased with how the Wolverines did overall. Two weeks ago, Nix took a team to Auburn and they finished second out of 21 teams.
“You never know what to expect,” he said. “We have had a good summer, as far as these challenges. I just ask them to compete and do their best. That is the main thing.”
Most importantly, it’s a bonding experience for the linemen, who cheer one another on through each stage.
“Any time you get them to work together, it’s good for you,” he said.
King’s Academy assistant coach Darin Armour said he was impressed with the way his players stacked up against some of the largest schools in the area. It was the first time the group had entered a squad in the challenge.
“The guys did good (Friday),” Armour said. “We had a couple of linemen that weren’t here, but we had a couple of other guys that came, and they did well. It’s good for us to mix it up with the public schools and, so far, I think we have done well.”
Armour said his players weren’t there to win.
“We are here to compete,” he said. “We wanted to see where we fall with these teams. We play some other schools that are private schools that have big programs, and we want to see how we do.”