Seeing how Rangeview players approach Hog Wars from the other side, Brandon Alconcel isn’t at all surprised by the program’s track record of success.
The Raiders’ new head coach came to the annual strength and teamwork competition for prep offensive and defensive linemen — the “Hogs” — a handful of times in the past with Overland, but experienced it in a different way.
Alconcel’s team delivered the 10th Hog Wars title in the 13th season of the event’s existence July 12 with a four-point win over Mullen and eight-point gap over Aurora’s next representative, Eaglecrest, after six events were contested at Rangeview.
“From the kids’ perspective, they go into Hog Wars expecting to win; it’s a big, big deal to them,” said Alconcel, who was hired to take over for Justin Hoffman less than two months earlier.
“The kids are all about it,” he added. “From a coaching perspective, you hope your training will translate and the kids are getting stronger, but you don’t know how you stack up against other teams. I was pleasantly surprised.”
The Raiders’ top group of seniors Dylan Graham, Alex Fragoso and Kameron Reed, junior Jesus Bahena and sophomores Anthony Thomas and Osvaldo Caloca more than stacked up to the competition, which included squads from five other Aurora schools and Mullen.
Graham, Fragoso and Reed returned from last season’s winning Rangeview team and their experience clearly paid dividends. The Raiders won the the Farmer’s Carry relay and the 125-pound “log” press events, while they managed to score runner-up points in the Hog Sled and fire truck push.
With 41 points, Rangeview —which was without senior Josh Wall, who was away at a leadership camp — finished four points ahead of Mullen, which took second and fourth place with its two teams. The Mustangs were also second last season.
Eaglecrest tied for third at Hog Wars in 2016 and repeated that result this time with 33 points, which included a victory in the Hog Sled event. The next-best event finish for coach Mike Schmitt’s Raptors came in the monster truck tire flip relay, where they were third behind both of Mullen’s teams.
Schmitt’s top group included just two seniors in Kyante Christian and Mac Shaw, along with a younger group headed by Bear Miller, who is generating significant Division I interest going into his junior season. Matt Youngblood, Elijah Anderson and Chris Stockman also performed well for Eaglecrest, which competed without sophomore Reece Atteberry, who plays on a traveling baseball team.
“It was good for us; a lot of our guys have been out of town doing camps, but we came together and had some seniors step up,” said Schmitt, whose team did Columbine’s Hog Olympics a few days later.
“We don’t really have the 300-pounders like you see in other places and for us, guys in the 230-240 range is big,” he added. “But our guys are strong and they just flat out compete.”
Eaglecrest’s rise in the trenches made a tremendous difference last season as the Raptors catapulted from 4-6 in 2015 to standing as Class 5A’s only undefeated team through 11 games until a tight loss to Regis Jesuit in the quarterfinals of the 5A playoffs.
A few players along the line graduated — including Air Force recruit Elijah Brockman — but Schmitt feels good about the group he’ll have up front on both sides of the football.
Cherokee Trail had two groups in the competition and the top team garnered 26 points, which included eight from a win in the fire truck push.
The Cougars — under the guidance of new head coach Joe Johnson, formerly of ThunderRidge — ushered the old fire truck provided by the Aurora Fire Department across the Rangeview parking lot in 17.51 seconds, just 0.03 of a second faster than Rangeview.
Also under the direction of a new head coach, Taylor Calvert, Gateway accrued 17 points to claim sixth place. The Olys excelled in the Farmer’s Carry, toting the weight bar further than anybody save Rangeview and Mullen.
Aurora Central’s 14 points put it seventh and Hinkley rounded out the Aurora contingent in 10th with two points.
Hog Wars annually marks the middle of summer and begins the countdown towards the start of fall practices. A few 7-on-7 competitions and camps remain before practice begins Aug. 14.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora prep Sentinel
2017 HOG WARS RESULTS
Team scores: 1. RANGEVIEW (1) 41 points; 2. Mullen (1) 37; 3. EAGLECREST 33; 4. Mullen (2) 30; 5. CHEROKEE TRAIL (1) 26; 6. GATEWAY 17; 7. AURORA CENTRAL 14; 8. RANGEVIEW (2) 12; 9. CHEROKEE TRAIL (2) 5; 10. HINKLEY 2
Event winners: Farmer’s Carry — RANGEVIEW (1); Tire flip relay — Mullen (1); “Log” press — RANGEVIEW (1); Hog sled — EAGLECREST; Fire truck push — CHEROKEE TRAIL (1); Tug-o-war — Mullen (1)