Opponents of Navarro’s football team will have their work cut out for them stopping the Panthers running attack this fall.
That’s because the boys in the trenches may be the toughest line they face all year.
The Panthers linemen proved that earlier this month in San Marcos when they won the Hardin-Simmons University Regional Lineman Challenge, one of three regional competitions in the state to qualify for the state lineman challenge.
“Our kids work hard, they love their position and they’re excited about being linemen,” head football coach Rod Blount said. “It’s very exciting for us, because for our offense we ask a lot of them — they’re pulling and running, so we need athletic linemen.
“They’ve taken pride in being those big guys up front, both offensively and defensively.”
Only two schools from each region qualified, making Navarro’s linemen some of the strongest in Division II in the state.
The Panthers competed in Division II against 4A and 3A schools including Liberty Hill, Gonzales, Cuero, Henderson and Burnet, among others.
Jon Gilbert, Leo Ocura, Brian Holmes, Grayson Hayes, David Reyna, Cooper Syzdek, Brett Butler and Carter Holtkamp made up the team.
All eight linemen are projected to be starters on either the offensive or defensive line for the Panthers this fall.
Navarro defeated two-time defending state champ Liberty Hill at the meet, and also beat Cuero, the team responsible for knocking the Panthers out of the state playoffs last year.
“It’s good for them to get out and compete in anything, because you’re going up against people that you’re going to face on the field in the fall,” Blount said.
The linemen competed in several different events; including the 185-pound bench press, the power drive, dumbbell stack relay, farmer’s carry, tire-flip relay, obstacle course and a team tug-of-war.
Holtkamp fared the best in the bench press, completing 31 reps of the 185-pound weight, and the team broke regional records in two timed competitions.
“Our kids broke the record in all divisions in two events, the farmer’s carry and the dumbbell stack relay,” Blount said.
Navarro’s times in the two events bettered previous records in Division II (the 3A and 4A schools), as well as the records set by 5A and 6A schools at the event.
Blount gave credit to strength and conditioning coach Jeff Harvey for the linemen’s performance in San Marcos.
“He’s done a great job and the kids have bought in to his ideas and philosophy,” Blount said. “He pushes the kids hard and makes sure they are training to become total athletes, not just strong, but also fast, explosive and quick. We’ve made some great gains in everything that we do.”
The linemen compete this Saturday in the state championship at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.
“They’re excited to go compete against the guys that are supposed to be the best in the state,” Blount said. “They want to see how they match up against everybody and they think they have a chance to go win it.”
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.