Arlington Citizen-Journal

Colts maintain excellence at state lineman challenge meet

The Arlington lineman challenge team gathers after winning the state championship.
The Arlington lineman challenge team gathers after winning the state championship. Courtesy photo

For the sixth time in nine years, the Arlington High lineman challenge team has captured the state championship. The state lineman challenge competition was in late June at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.

It may not be a rarity for the Colts to dominate this track-and-field-style competition for football offensive and defensive linemen. But when one considers the lineman challenge team’s success combined with that of the skill guys — the Arlington 7-on-7 squad qualified for the state tournament in College Station last week, then the Colts have reason for strong optimism about the upcoming varsity season.

Philip Nelson, the Arlington offensive coordinator and lineman challenge coach, recalls that the last time the big guys and skill guys combined for so much summer success, the Colts made it all the way to the regional semifinal round of the playoffs. That’s was in 2009, when Arlington was led by Luke Joeckel, a behemoth offensive tackle who would go on to be the second overall pick in the NFL draft.

“That was the last class that did this in the summer,” Nelson said.

Jacob Russ, who will be a junior center in the fall, wasn’t stunned that he and his fellow Arlington offensive linemen obliterated a dozen other top 6A schools at the lineman challenge state meet. After all, the Colts had already won five lineman challenge contests leading up to state.

“We were pretty confident going in that we would win this,” Russ said.

And afterward, with the championship secured, the big guys finally got a chance to bask in a victory that was all theirs. After all, as Nelson reminds anyone who will listen, the linemen do a lot of the dirty work in-season and rarely get the same level of media or fan praise as receivers, quarterbacks and corners.

“We were ecstatic,” Russ said. “It was a great feeling.”

Arlington didn’t just win. The Colts dominated, racking up 84 points. The second-place team notched just 46 points. “It wasn’t even close,” Nelson said.

The Colts took first in tire throw, tire push, farmer’s walk, sled push relay, bench press and hay bale race. The hay bale race requires teams to push a giant round stack of hay using a whole host of teammates.

Arlington also finished second in numerous events — even in ones in which a Colts lineman slipped, losing precious seconds to other teams.

“Even in the events when we slipped we still finished near the top,” Nelson said.

Russ expects the experience of taking home the state’s lineman challenge championship to have a direct impact on the confidence of the Colts football team. “This will definitely give us a boost of confidence going into the season,” Russ said. “We’re excited to see what we can do.”

Sports digest


Youth football

The Arlington Steelers youth football league is registering players for its upcoming season. The first scrimmage is July 30.

Flag football (ages 5 and 6) is $150 and tackle (ages 7-12) is $175.

Information and registration:


Soccer registration

The Arlington Soccer Association is registering for its fall recreational leagues through early August. Player registration deadline is Aug. 10 and team registration deadline is Aug. 5.

Information and registration:

Youth baseball

The Optimist Club of Arlington is registering 10U and 12U baseball teams. Information:


YMCA summer sports camps

The Arlington YMCA will be hosting a summer soccer camp Aug. 8-11. The camp will cost $19 for members and $75 for program members and is for ages 5-14.

Soccer camp will be held at the Cooper Street YMCA.


Stephen English:, @sbenglish74