By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Linemen are the selfless players who bloody their hands and sacrifice their bodies in the trenches, but often don’t earn any recognition.
However, on Friday at Minisink Valley High School, the big guys up front were the focal point. Minisink Valley hosted its annual Lineman Challenge which attracted 12 teams from seven Section 9 schools. Monroe-Woodbury White won the event with 66 points, capping the competition with an epic tug of war win over Minisink Valley Green, which finished with 59 points.
Saugerties (46) finished third followed by Warwick Purple (44) and Cornwall Green (33).
“That tug of war at the end was like a game,” said Monroe-Woodbury senior Zack Vanier. “You just have to be tough, no matter what is in front of you. It was like we were in the fourth quarter. You have to keep going and you definitely felt it in your body.”
Teams competed in seven events, the tractor pull, tire flip, obstacle course, farmers walk, bench press, five-man sled and the tug of war. This marked the fifth year that Minisink Valley hosted the event. Warwick held a similar competition years ago.
The Lineman Challenge 2.0 was the brainchild of Minisink Valley coach Kevin Gallagher and jayvee assistant coach Daryl Williams. It was created to give linemen a competition to participate in and to foster camaraderie between schools.
“You have the 7-on-7’s, but you have no place for linemen to go,” Gallagher said. “Linemen never get credit, so I think they love this event. Everyone knows how important linemen are. If you don’t have good linemen, you don’t have a good team. This is great exposure for them.”
The tug of war was the final and most hyped event of the day. It didn’t disappoint with teams’ digging in while their coaches, teammates and fans cheered them on frantically. Monroe-Woodbury had already clinched the championship when it faced off in the tug of war final.
The battle lasted for more than a minute with both sides swaying and digging, before Monroe-Woodbury White pulled out the win, literally. The winners were rewarded with a $100 gift card to a local wing joint and everyone knows that wings serve as the perfect meal for linemen.
“It was a lot of fun,” Monroe-Woodbury senior Connor McCleary said. “We don’t get too many opportunities like this, so we took full advantage of it. It was definitely a great time.”