For the second time this (off)season, the Henry County football team out-lifted Anderson County in a weight lifting competition that tests football players’ strengths in two gut-busting lifts — the bench press and power clean.
Soon-to-be freshmen to seniors were eligible to compete against each other in 11 different weight classes, from 135 pounds and under to more than 250. At the competition held at Henry County High School May 8, the Wildcats finished first in 10 of the 11 divisions, and came away with an easy overall victory. What made the win that much more impressive is the fact the Henry, a 3A football team, was going head-to-head with Anderson, a much larger 5A team. Henry finished last fall’s football season with a 9-4 record and won two games in the State Playoffs. Meanwhile, Anderson went 11-1, and won one game in the Playoffs with their lone loss of the entire season coming in the second round.
“I’m always surprised with a win, especially over a 5A school that went undefeated in the regular season last year,” said Chris Engstrand, Henry’s football coach. “But our expectations are certainly higher this year than in years past.”
Henry’s top bench press during the competition came from returning lineman Steven May, who heaved up 325 pounds in the 250-pound class. Other top performances in the bench press included Matt Butts (295), Darien Ingram (275), Kevin Quire (275), Brian Mendez (275) and Pete Baldwin (250).
In the power clean, returning middle linebacker Erick Butler was the top performer with 275 pounds. Mendez got up 265 and Brett Downey 230 to help lead the Wildcats to their victory.
The Cats that won their weight divisions were Zack Carroll (135-class), Tommy Farris (145-class), TJ Kelley (155-class), Mendez (165-class), Lance Timberlake (175-class), Baldwin (185-class), Butler (195-class), Bobby Crenshaw (205-class), Downey (220-class) and May (250-class).
Now, Engstrand hopes the hard off-season work translates from the weight room to the football field next fall when the Wildcats try to defend their district championship and advance even farther in the Playoffs.
“They’re hungry for the season to begin, and they understand that our success is in direct proportion to our efforts in the off-season,” Engstrand said. “Our season is decided in the months of January through May. We put a lot of stock into our strength and speed development, and I think we’ll see those efforts rewarded this season.”
Around 40 players came out for the off-season work, which included lifting three days per week for an hour and 15 minutes each time out. There were 36 that competed against Anderson.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” Engstrand said. “They have worked so hard to get better, and those that have put in the time and effort will reap what they have sown. Look for big thing this year from the Wildcats.”
135-pound class: Zack Carroll, 1st (150 bench and 155 power clean); Cody Banta, 4th (95 bench and 95 power clean); Philip Tomlinson, 5th (105 power clean). 145-pound class: Tommy Farris, 1st (155 bench and 165 power clean); Jesse Adams, 2nd (145 bench and 155 power clean); Jimmy Sampson, 3rd (125 bench and 165 power clean). 155-pound class: TJ Kelley, 1st (220 bench and 190 power clean); Freddie Mendez, 3rd (175 bench and 210 power clean); Spud Baldwin, 4th (190 bench and 190 power clean); Michael Ellis, 5th (170 bench and 165 power clean); Taylor Hardin, 6th (165 bench and 145 power clean); Kyle Downey, 7th (150 bench and 145 power clean). 165-pound class: Brian Mendez, 1st (275 bench and 265 power clean); Chase Spears, 3rd (200 bench and 195 power clean); Matt Long, 4th (190 bench and 200 power clean); Brent Raisor, 5th (170 bench and 165 power clean); Marcus Box, 6th (150 bench and 165 power clean). 175-pound class: Lance Timberlake, 1st (205 bench and 205 power clean); Hayden Yancey, tied 4th (170 bench and 190 power clean); Trevor Raisor, tied 4th (175 bench and 185 power clean); Juan Rojas, 7th (145 bench and 170 power clean); John Allgeier, 8th (175 power clean). 185-pound class: Pete Baldwin, 1st (250 bench and 205 power clean); Jacob Yount, 5th (125 bench and 175 power clean). 195-pound class: Erick Butler, 1st (230 bench and 275 power clean); George Couch, 2nd (135 bench). 205-pound class: Bobby Crenshaw, 1st (235 bench and 200 power clean); Joe Fraze, 2nd (225 bench and 205 power clean). 220-pound class: Brett Downey, 1st (230 bench and 230 power clean); Jesse Bowlin, 3rd (175 bench and 165 power clean). 250-pound class: Steven May, 1st (325 bench and 225 power clean); Kevin Quire, 2nd (275 bench and 265 power clean). HWT: Matt Butts, 2nd (295 bench and 215 power clean); Darien Ingram, 3rd (275 bench and 225 power clean); Josh Satchwell, 4th (205 bench and 200 power clean); Chris Price, 5th (205 power clean).