BOLINGBROOK — Thanks to the Raider Linemen Challenge held in Bolingbrook on Wednesday, the general public has now had the chance to see the bulk of the 2013 Morris Redskins football team. Between the entirety of the summer 7-on-7 passing season and now the event on Wednesday, the team has, for the most part, been rolled out.
“All summer we do 7-on-7 for the backs, so they get to compete against a lot of different teams, but the linemen are pretty much left at home and in the weight room,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “So this is the one opportunity for these guys to get out and compete against other schools.”
“It’s nice that we get to do something for once,” Morris offensive lineman T.J. Layne said. “Not only that, but we get to see the other teams and how they are holding up. We also get to see how we are doing ourselves.”
All totaled, there were 42 five-man teams and 25 schools at this year’s challenge.
“It’s a great place for the guys to come out and see what they’ve got,” Morris line coach Keith Anderson said. “You know, the backs and the receivers and quarterbacks have the 7-on-7 and for the guys this is an opportunity to get out of the weight room.”
“The lineman challenge is a great measurement. We get to see where we stand strength wise, agility wise and for speed,” Morris line coach John Wodziak said. “These tests that they give us are a good way to measure where we are at currently.
It also shows us where we need to improve on through the rest of the summer. It’s a good opportunity for them. I think it’s something they look forward to. Bolingbrook puts on a great show here.”
The Raider Linemen Challenge features many things to show off specific skill sets for linemen like a tug of war competition, weight lifting and medicine ball throw while mixing in sprints, shuttle drills and an obstacle course.
“It’s not always line stuff; there is the obstacle course and other stuff, but this gets them out and competing,” Thorson said. “Probably the biggest thing we like to see out of this is the competitive nature of the guys coming out. Also, seeing how they do against other schools and that’s also fun.”
“In all honesty, we’re the one team where we want to see where everybody else it at,” Wodziak said. “They are going to compete and show well, but we want them to see where the other teams are at and what they need to improve on. It’s good exposure and a good learning experience.”
“It is something the guys do look forward to every year,” Anderson said. “It kind of gives us a gauge at where we are at as a team, line wise.”
Morris had three teams at the event the first team was made up of Eric Haisch, T.J. Layne, Mark Lincoln, Andrew Fought and Austin Laurie; the second team was Garrett Wisnewski, Tristan Layne, Ned Kneller, Dalton Ness and Josh Garrett and the third team was Zach Hansen, Chance Hoffman, Mason Dryfhout, Tucker Hoffman and Kevin Hernandez.
“This year we’re taking this really serious,” T.J. Layne said. “We’re coming back from a state team and we want to do the best we can to show that we’re not going to hang in those coat-tails.”
Thorson said that he likes that each team strives so hard to do better than the one before.
“Obviously, last year’s team was a special team and they set the bar high. These guys are trying to live up to that,” he said. “We have a record board in the weight room which has records from year’s back and they so those numbers and they start to think about last year and what the guys did here. They are competitive and each group wants to be better than the last. We like that. That’s the attitude we want in this program. We want that attitude where they are trying to make themselves better. Yeah, this is a competitive group.”
Having 15 guys show up at such an event show a lot for their desire, too.
“Everyone was eager and ready to come to this,” Wodziak said. “They want to show everyone else how much work we’ve put into this over the whole summer. I think they are eager to get the chance to show off also.”
“It shows that we have good interest in the program and we’ve got good interest in kids becoming linemen,” Anderson said. “I like that.”
The first real test for the offensive line won’t come for another 43 days yet when the season officially kicks off. With just one returning starter back from last year, the coaching staff may need all of that time to figure out who’s going to be up front this fall.
“The nice thing is that it is really an open competition. That’s because we do have a lot of depth on the team,” Thorson said. “We have a lot of good linemen for those spots. You know, T.J’s back and I think he’s pretty much got a spot this year, but the rest of the guys are fighting for the other spots. I think that’s a good thing. They are hungry and every day in practice coach Anderson or Wodziak will point out that it’s a different guy every day who stepping up. These guys want to play football for us and they are competing every day for those starting spots.”
Layne is confident that everything will all be filled in — in due time.
“I feel that we have the people to do it,” T.J. Layne said. “I think it’s a matter of filling the spots as they come.”