Eaglecrest linemen pose with the trophy won by the Raptors’ top team on July 24, 2021, at the annual Hog Wars strength and teamwork competition for Aurora offensive and defensive linemen, which returned after a year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

AURORA | The Eaglecrest offensive line already had high expectations for the upcoming football season and lived up to its billing July 24 at Hog Wars.

Led by one of its two Division I commitments in Michigan State-bound Braden Miller, the Raptors flexed their muscles in the annual strength and teamwork competition hosted by Rangeview High School — which made its return after a year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic — to win the event for the first time.

To do so, Eaglecrest’s top group of Miller, Shane Boyer, Amir Hall, Mason Harris and Jackson Hurst had to win the final event of a grueling, fast-paced event — the tug-o-war — to defeat a Rangeview team that was in search of its 12th title at the event started in 2005 by former coach Dave Gonzales.

“It was a lot of fun; this is my third time being out here,” Miller said. “Coming up short those first two years was tough, so it was great to come out here and win.”

The Raptors triumphed in the first event of the day, the fire truck push, and put on a steady performance through the sled push relay, log press and monster tire truck flip to take a three-point lead into the tug-o-war, where they dominated their way to the finals, as did the Raiders, who earned the maximum points in the tire flip and log press.

Eaglecrest topped Rangeview in the tug-o-war final to finish with 40 points to 36 for Rangeview’s team of Elijah Jamison, Jimmy Jefferson, Jose Rodriguez, Austin Appiah and Brandon Jones.

Boyer got his first chance to compete in Hog Wars and enjoyed the farmer’s carry — the opposite of Miller — while also getting a look at players from other programs.

“It’s fun coming out here and competing with everyone,” Boyer said. “You can see how all the other schools are doing and what the competition will be for the season.”

Eaglecrest assistant coach Seth Replogle was pleased with the competitive level of both of the Raptors’ teams, including a second unit that had one senior with several sophomores and a freshman.

“We’re very lucky, all the line coaches at Eaglecrest, to have these kids, because they work very, very hard,” Replogle said. “They’ve got some genetic talent, but they also have a lot of determination and persistence and they just work every day. We’ve had a good summer in the weight room, so hopefully this gives us a jump start on the season.”

Gateway (2011), Overland (2012), Cherokee Trail (2013), Vista PEAK (2019) and Eaglecrest now have been able to claim titles at the event, which has been won by Rangeview on the other 11 occasions.

Led by Division I prospect Travis Gray, Cherokee Trail performed well across the board on its way to third place, while Eaglecrest’s second team — made up of all sophomores plus a freshman — finished fourth among the seven Aurora teams competing.

Smoky Hill took fifth, Vista PEAK — the last Hog Wars champion which had a lot of graduation — came in sixth and Overland seventh.

Hog Wars was held for the first time under Rangeview head coach Mike Holmes, who coached the team during the spring season. Holmes added an extra component to this Hog Wars with a partnership with The Athlete’s Edge, which took verified measurements and recorded results of several drills for each player beforehand to help with their recruiting process.

Holmes found out how important the event was to the returning players at Rangeview when he announced the event would return.

“When we said we’re doing Hog Wars, it just lit everybody up,” Holmes said. “It’s not very often you can get 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids to wake up at 6:45 a.m. in the middle of the summer to get better. It’s exciting for them and we’re glad to be a part of it.”

Holmes hopes to add more Aurora teams next year and more combine components.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

2021 HOG WARS FINAL STANDINGS

Team scores: 1. Eaglecrest 1 40 points; 2. Rangeview 36; 3. Cherokee Trail 29; 4. Eaglecrest 2 24; 5. Smoky Hill 19; 6. Vista PEAK 12; 7. Overland 11

HOG WARS ORDER OF FINISH BY EVENT

Farmer’s Carry: 1. Eaglecrest 1; 2. Cherokee Trail; 3. Rangeview; 4. Smoky Hill; 5. Vista PEAK; 6. Eaglecrest 2; 7. Overland

Tire Flip Relay: 1. Rangeview; 2. Eaglecrest 1; 3. Eaglecrest 2; 4. Cherokee Trail; T5. Overland, Smoky Hill, Vista PEAK

Log Press: 1. Rangeview; 2. Eaglecrest 1; 3. Cherokee Trail; 4. Smoky Hill; 5. Eaglecrest 2; 6. Vista PEAK; 7. Overland

Hog Sled Relay: 1. Eaglecrest 1; 2. Cherokee Trail; 3. Rangeview; 4. Eaglecrest 2; 5. Smoky Hill; 6. Vista PEAK; 7. Overland

Firetruck push: 1. Eaglecrest 1; 2. Rangeview; 3. Eaglecrest 2; 4. Cherokee Trail; 5. Smoky Hill; 6. Overland; 7. Vista PEAK

Tug-O-War: 1. Eaglecrest 1; 2. Rangeview; 3. Eaglecrest 2; 4. Cherokee Trail; 5. Overland; 6. Smoky Hill; 7. Vista PEAK

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