Vanguard Wins BattleLines State Championship After Tightly Contested Competition with Steinbrenner Gold
By Joshua Wilson
THE VILLAGES, Fla. – If anyone thought that the lineman has nothing to do during the summer while all the skill position athletes are attending the Florida High School 7v7 Association State Championship Tournament at The Villages Polo Club in Sumter County, they just might be looking the other way.
That is because linemen from all over the state from teams competing at the FHS7v7A State Championship had the opportunity to compete in the FHS7v7A BattleLines State Championship, which involves a series of competitive events that earn team’s points on their way to winning the state championship trophy with the events involving a five-on-five format for the events.
The one-day event, which took place during the morning of the second day of the FHS7v7A State Championship, saw athletes battle from teams like Vanguard, St. Petersburg Northeast, and Steinbrenner. Steinbrenner is one of the most seasoned teams in the BattleLines State Championship series, as they are the team that won the first BattleLines State Championship in 2019, among other teams from around the Sunshine State. Steinbrenner put 20 of their linemen into the event through four different teams.
The events that the linemen participated in included:
• Farmers Walk rotates after a 40-yard walk for a time with a weight where the lowest time earns the most points.
• Mas Wrestling, where the mas cannot be turned more than 90 degrees with no twisting of the mas allowed. On Mas Wrestling, each athlete has to pull the mas out of the other wrestler’s hands, pull the other wrestler off balance so both of their feet leave the board, or pull the other wrestler entirely over the board.
• Truck Drive Relay, where each team member will drive the truck 15 yards with a five-yard rolling period for 20 yards until 100 yards have been completed. The team with the lowest time earns the most points.
• Tug-a-War, where teams in a single elimination format pull against each team, with the best six teams earning points.
• Lineman Equitation, which is where teams have up to 60 seconds to complete plays that include separate stations to simulate defense/offense with various play cards to execute the blocking scheme listed on the card with the entire team needing to be together at the end to finish and secure their time completely. The team with the fastest time earns the most points.
As such, teams with the best finish earn 6 points for each event, with the lowest number of points going down to one.
Ultimately, it came down to three teams battling the hardest, with St. Petersburg Northeast coming in third place and Vanguard topping Steinbrenner Gold by just two points to claim this year’s BattleLines Championship.
BattleLines Director Josh Palmer, who has overseen the direction of this part of the FHS7v7A going back to 2019, was very happy with how this year’s BattleLines Championship went, despite the tug-a-war ropes both snapping during the competition.
“It completely took me by surprise,” Palmer said about the tug-a-war ropes breaking. “We have a lot of rain. Fortunately, it was sunny enough today to where we could have a good day with a nice breeze. Went through all four events, got to the big dog, and that is, the tug-a-war, and went through a few rounds. Finally saw one team just straight drop to the ground, and then the other team dropped, and I looked down, and the rope was broken. I got bummed for a split second because my heart was like, ‘Man, there goes a rope,’ then I got excited; I got really excited because that is the first time that has ever happened. You can attribute it to the rain, and the ropes being waterlogged, and us using them for four or five years now.
As for compromising on the ropes breaking, the first one broke when they were trying to get four teams going at a time, so they went down to the one rope, and that lasted until the final two teams were going at it, and the second rope broke. Palmer said they compensated for the second broken rope as he had two tugs in the truck and was able to adjust to complete the tug-a-war competition.
As for the growth of the event, Palmer loves it.
“When I first started four years ago, we had some different events, maybe eight or nine teams. We had 17 teams here today, and we are looking to expand that. I would love to get every line coach in the state to bring their line, and let’s do this thing over two days and make it huge. We don’t have much for linemen, and I want to provide that for them, something to get the big boys out of the house over the summer and bond as a team and as a unit, really watch them come together,” Palmer said.
As such, congratulations to all the linemen that participated in the BattleLines State Championship, and we wish you all the best in the trenches for the 2023 season!
BATTLELINES STATE CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT RESULTS
Vanguard – 21 points Steinbrenner Gold – 19 points St. Petersburg Northeast – 15 points Plant Black – 11 points Steinbrenner Gray – 9 points The Villages – 8 points Riverview Black – 6 points Steinbrenner White – 5 points Lake Howell – 3 points Riverview Blue – 3 points Tocoi Creek – 1 point Estero – 0 points Steinbrenner Blue – 0 points Eastside – 0 points
PAST BATTLELINES STATE CHAMPIONS
2023 – Vanguard (Ocala) 2022 – Terry Parker (Jacksonville) 2021 – Palm Bay (Melbourne) 2020 – Tournament Canceled Due To COVID-19 2019 – Steinbrenner (Lutz)