Don Ketchum
Former Staff Writer,

Big Man competition tests strength, agility of linemen

June 30, 2014 by Don Ketchum, AZPreps365

While their skill-position teammates were frolicking out on the field, running routes and catching passes, the men who form the fortress up front were testing their strength, quickness and endurance in the blazing heat.

No wimps allowed.

The Big Man competition, now a staple of summer passing leagues, was running at full throttle on Saturday (June 28) at an Arizona Football Coaches Association event at the Surprise Stadium complex.

One team with a strong tradition of linemen is Peoria Centennial, an annual state title contender.

Making the Big Man circuit for the third time was senior-to-be Brett Tonz, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive lineman who is being recruited by some colleges in the West.

Competitors pull sleds, carry water pipes, flip tractor tires over, dart over and around hurdles, blocking dummies, and bulk up for the bench press (more details on these later).

The first time Tonz participated, he admitted that he was “a little nervous. It’s gotten easier since then. Well, not a lot easier, but at least you know what to expect.’’

It is fun, he added, “but your competitive side takes over and you don’t mess around. You want to win, give everything you’ve got, leave it all out there. You are working for your teammates.’’

Flipping a tire over and over can be tough, but Tonz and his teammates make sure they come prepared.

“The tire is pretty hard, but we practice with bigger, heavier ones so that this will seem easier,’’ he said.

The linemen do the best they can pulling a weighted tire and looping around the obstacles.

“It shows your agility,’’ Tonz said.

Another key element in regard to endurance is that the linemen must drink plenty of fluids before competition.

On this particular day, the thermometer read 105 degrees.

“It’s hot, but it’s not that much different from what we practice in early in the season,’’ Tonz said.

6 stations for Big Man competition

Station #1 – (30-yard A Frame Push). One at a time, five men will push an A-frame sled with 150 pounds 15 yards down and around a cone and back.

Station #2 – (30-yard Farmers Walk with 15-yard Tire Flip). The five-man team will have each player walk 30 yards with 80-pound dumbbells and flip the tire. Competitors will start by flipping a tire 30 yards, then carry dumbbells back 30 yards. The next player will then start carrying the dumbbells past the line, followed by flipping the tire back.

Station #3 – (Bench press 205 pounds). Five-man team will get maximum reps with 205 pounds on a bench. The bar must touch the chest and elbows must lock out for the rep to count.

Station #4 – (100-yard water pipe run). Five-man team will have to carry a 60-pound water pipe 50 yards down and back. Each player will have to hold the pipe across their chest and go 100 yards. If the pipe touches the ground, it cannot be dragged, so participant must get it into carrying position before continuing to move.

Station #5 – (Obstacle Course). Five-man team will complete an obstacle course that will include five aspects . . .

Hurdle over bags, weave between pop ups, movement over and under five hurdles, pull a 50-foot fire hose with a 35-pound kettle bell in it, and complete a figure-8 around two large hoops. Any bag that is moved, going the wrong way on weaving, any hurdle moved or going the wrong way on the figure-8 will result in a five-second penalty for each infraction.

Station #6 – (30-yard sled pull). Five-man team will hold onto straps and each member will pull a sled with 125 pounds 15 yards down and back. Members will be moving backwards in this event.