AURORA | It’ll be slightly different, but it will still be Hog Wars.
The annual strength and teamwork competition for offensive and defensive linemen — the “hogs” — returns for the 11th edition on Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m. at Rangeview High School and expects to serve as a primer for the start of a fall football practices in a few weeks.
The differences begin at the top, where Justin Hoffman is now head coach at Rangeview in place of Dave Gonzales, the Hog Wars founder who was let go by the school after 10 playoff berths in 12 seasons and five straight league championships.
This season will be a little lighter in terms of numbers of teams, as the defending Hog Wars champion Raiders will be joined by Eaglecrest, Gateway and Overland. Denver East is a new addition to Hog Wars, becoming the first team outside Aurora to be included.
The Angels play against all the Aurora schools — Aurora Central, Gateway, Hinkley and Rangeview — in the upcoming season.
The competition features five of its usual events — the farmer’s carry, monster truck tire flip relay, 125-pound “log” press, vehicle push (an Aurora Police Department tactical vehicle this time) and tug-o’-war, while it will add an event Hoffman calls the “hog sled” relay.
Hoffman built two “hog sleds” from wood donated by a Home Depot in Golden — with help from Jeff Engleson, a parent of one of Hoffman’s former players at Gateway — for linemen to push in relay fashion for 20 yards apiece.
Teams are generally comprised of five linemen plus a few more than can be rotated in per event and Hoffman expects each school competing will have three teams entered.
Rangeview won last season’s event and owns seven Hog Wars titles in 10 years. Gateway won in 2011 and Overland in 2012.
Cherokee Trail, the 2013 Hog Wars champion and runner-up last season, is not competing this season, nor is 2014 third-place finisher Smoky Hill.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel