Football: Annual ‘Battle of the Big Butts’ brings linemen together
By Rick Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org July 19, 2012 8:18PM
Batavia senior Sebastian Vermaas competes in the sled push Thursday at the annual Battle of the Big Butts at West Aurora High School. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 21, 2012 6:34AM
Competitive juices were flowing Thursday at the Battle of the Big Butts at West Aurora High School, and it wasn’t just during the entertaining watermelon eating contest.
“It’s a really fun time to come together, fun before it gets to be a real grind [with the start of two-a-day practices in a few weeks],” Blackhawks senior center Tyler Thomas, the lone returning starter on coach Nate Eimer’s offensive line, said of the relay-event competition.
Groups of five football linemen from 16 schools took part in the competition that was started by former West coach Buck Drach and assistant Mike Powers when both were at St. Charles East. This is the fourth year it’s been at West.
Squads from as far away as Grayslake North and Chicago Amundsen joined area schools that included Batavia, Geneva, Oswego East, Neuqua Valley, Bartlett and St. Charles East.
In addition to the fun eating contest, there were seven other events of a more serious nature to test the players’ skills: bench press (185 pounds for varsity, 135 for frosh-soph), 40-yard dash, seated medicine ball throw, agility run drill, tractor tire relay, drive the 5-man blocking sled and tug-of-war.
“We’ve been doing a lot of hard work, pushing to get to the next level [during summer workouts],” Thomas said. “This [event] is our pride and joy. We take this very seriously and practice these events leading up to this.”
It was evident as teammates spotted for each other and shouted encouragement during the bench press competition and even encouraged other teams if someone was struggling to flip the heavy tractor tire the required 10 yards.
“We’re having a good summer. We’ve put in a lot of work,” said Oswego East senior offensive tackle Tony Pendleton, who was joined by Killian Mills, Hector Mendoza, Jeremy Allen and Tyler Engleman in winning the sled drive. “The receivers and other skill [position] players get to take part in 7-on-7 competitions in the summer so this is nice for us. We’re connecting.”
Working as a unit, they pushed the blocking sled 69 feet, 3 inches during a five-second burst to win that event. A Batavia team claimed the tire relay and 40-yard dash, Downers Grove South won the bench press, Crystal Lake Central the combined time agility drill and tug of war and another Batavia squad claimed the medicine ball throw. Final team totals, however, were unavailable.
“We have a very athletic and fast team and they can be explosive, but we haven’t got enough beef to dominate in an event like the tug-of-war,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said, “but they represented us well and it’s nice for them to get recognized.”
Many of the Bulldogs’ skill players, like West Aurora’s, were in attendance to encourage and cheer on their teammates.
Bartlett offensive line coach Ken Williamson said, “It’s a great chance for them to get recognized since they don’t get to take part in 7-on-7s. It builds team unity.”
Hawks’ 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive end Chris Kantzavelos, who has verbally committed to Central Michigan University, liked it because “it brings us together.”