AURORA | Hog Wars jumpstarted what the Cherokee Trail football team hopes is another big season in 2013.
The Cougars had been regular participants at the ninth annual strength and teamwork contest for Aurora linemen hosted by Rangeview High School, but hadn’t finished any better than third place until Wednesday, when Cherokee Trail’s top team took the title with a winner-take-all tug-o-war against Gateway.
The team of Nic Bogulski, Kaleb Barnum, Colt Jones, Jacob M artin, Derek Torrence and Jordan Calhoun — several of which played last season as coach Monte Thelen’s group made it to the Class 5A state championship game — finished on top after they defeated the Olys to break a tie after the completion of five events.
Both teams racked up 36 points, creating the first place deadlock that was decided by the tug-o-war as agreed to by both sides. The Cougars prevailed, outlasting an orange-clad Gateway team with plenty of support from the crowd.
“It was an exciting way to win a trophy, that’s for sure,” said the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Jones, who anchored the tug-o-war. “Bringing it home for the first time for Cherokee Trail is unbelievable. This is just one of the stepping stones for us and now we want to show how dominating we can be.”
The Cougars finished first in one of the five events — the 125-pound “log” lift — along with second in the 140-pound farmer’s carry and the pickup truck push.
Cherokee Trail became the fourth team to win the championship in the history of the event, joining Rangeview — which won the event for the first six years — plus Gateway in 2011 and Overland last season. This season’s Hog Wars had its biggest turnout, with only Grandview and Regis Jesuit absent among Aurora’s 11 high schools.
“I think we’ve been to eight out of nine of these and the best we’ve finished is third; it always seemed like we were chasing Rangeview,” Cougars line coach Tom Rutt said.
“When Overland, a league opponent, won it last year, it made it that much more important for us,” he added.
Gateway’s top unit of Junior Gutierrez, Jack Engelson, Jonah Mitchell, Devin Johnson and Isaac Fuqua won the monster tire flip relay and could have won the Hog Wars title by taking first in the tug-o-war, but coach Ashour Peera’s Olys lost to a determined group from Overland in the championship battle to drop into a tie with Cherokee Trail.
“It was a little disappointing, but we came to show how hard we can compete,” Mitchell said. “We hardly even prepared for this, so we did well. …Gateway pride all day.”
Coach Dave Gonzales’ Rangeview No. 1 team of Brian Durham, Trent Manns, Sean O’Keefe, Richard King, Paul Williams and Sione Vakafuhu won the farmer’s carry and finished in third place overall with 29 points.
With an entirely different group, Overland fell short of defending the Hog Wars title it won last season, but coach Seth Replogle’s team won the tug-o-war competition and jumped up to fourth place with a strong late finish.
Aurora Central won the pickup truck push — a last-minute change because the Aurora firetruck usually used in the event didn’t show up as expected — and used the 10 points to take eighth place. The Trojans vaulted in front of district rival Hinkley, which came with new coach Jaron Cohen at the helm. The Thunderbirds picked up six points.
Vista PEAK competed in the event for the first time and brought two teams, finishing 12th and 13th.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555
2013 HOG WARS STANDINGS
1. Cherokee Trail I 36 points*; 2. Gateway I 36; 3. Rangeview I 29; 4. Overland 20; 5. Cherokee Trail II 17; 6. Eaglecrest 16; 7. Rangeview II 15; 8. Aurora Central 14; 9. Hinkley 6; T10. Gateway II 3; T10. Smoky Hill 3; 12. Vista PEAK I 1; 13. Vista PEAK II 0
* — Won head-to-head tug’o war to win title