TOPSFIELD — Battered and bruised, dirty and overworked but never glorified, linemen are a football team’s indispensable pieces that fans sometimes fail to notice.
Rarely do linemen, especially on the offensive side of the ball, get a chance to enjoy any of the team’s glory.
Eleven years ago in Albany, N.Y., Steve Hladio and some coaching friends came up with an idea to change that.
“As a line coach, there’s never anything for linemen to do that’s fun. There are all those 7-on-7s out there,” Hladio said, referring to the tournaments that cater to skill position players. “We were sitting watching a Strongman competition in a restaurant and took some notes. The next day we said, ‘Let’s do this for linemen.’”
Hladio has an impressive coaching resume, beginning as a graduate assistant at the University of Cincinnati in 1991. He also coached at Boston College, Harvard, the University of Albany, Florida International, RPI and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. He was the offensive line coach at the University of Albany when the idea of creating a lineman challenge came to him and some friends.
Hladio brought his set of strength and agility drills to Masconomet yesterday afternoon, and 11 teams competed to find out which one was the strongest and quickest as they head into summer training.
Masconomet fielded four teams and its No. 1 team ended up winning the competition with 84 points. Seniors-to-be Steve O’Reilly, Michael Pascuccio, Jack Butt, Louis Saladino and Kyle Taggart made up the winning team.
North Reading was second with 77 points and Northeast Regional took third with 67.
Teams from Cardinal Spellman (4th, 61 points), Danvers (6th, 49 points), Methuen (7th, 44 points), Swampscott (8th, 43 points), and Lynn Classical (9th, 39 points) also competed. Masconomet No. 2 came in fifth with 50 points while Masco No. 3 (28) and Masco No. 4 (17), made up of younger players, finished 10th and 11th, respectively.