The moment I stepped on the track at Carmel High School this afternoon, I could hear the screams down in “The Pit.” By the time I reached to stairs that descend from the track to the bottom practice fields, I could see where they came from.
It was one of the great football scenes of the summer. The final few teams standing in the annual lineman challenge were engaged in the highly anticipated tug o’war before a throng of players, parents and coaches. The result was a bit of a revenge victory for Arlington, which beat Newburgh Free Academy in both the tug o’ war and the overall standings to win. Last year, Arlington finished second behind NFA.
The outcome should’ve been somewhat of a surprise considering Arlington graduated nine starters on offense, nine on defense and its kicker, punter and long snapper, but the Admirals’ cupboard is far from bare.
I talked to coach Dominick DeMatteo, who was optimistic about the strength of his team up front. Seniors Logan Murphy and Anthony Dabney were in the rotation at tackle on the offensive line. Murphy, whose brother, Tyler, was one of Arlington’s stars last season, will likely play guard this season. Why? We’ll get to HIM in a second.
The Admirals also return a key piece of their defensive line in John Migliaccio, who, along with the younger Murphy and Dabney, earned plenty of playing time up front. But another player who really excites DeMatteo is senior Eric Kuklinski. At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, he’s the biggest player on the team and among the handful of biggest players in the section. The only reason we haven’t heard much about Kuklinski up until now is because he missed multiple games with an illness last season. By the time he returned, DeMatteo said he suffered a broken wrist and missed the remainder of the season.
“We think he can be the first true Division I-AA prospect we’ve had,” DeMatteo said.
The scary part? Kuklinski wasn’t even in attendance today, yet Arlington STILL walked away winning the prestigious event. The Admirals won five of the 10 events, including the bench press. Each of the five team members had a chance to lift 185 pounds as many times as possible in 30 seconds. Arlington’s quintet finished with 125 reps in what amounted to 150 seconds. That’s impressive.
Anyway, there were 29 teams involved in this year’s lineman challenge. Teams earned points (either 10, 8, 6, 4 or 2) for placing in the top five in an event.
Here’s how they were ranked in the end:
Final standings —
1. Arlington, 58
2. Newburgh, 52
3. Cornwall, 26
T4. Poughkeepsie, 20
T4. Mount Vernon, 20
6. Brewster, 16
T7. New Fairfield, 10
T7. Putnam Valley, 10
T7. Red Hook (No. 2), 10
T10. Our Lady of Lourdes, 8
T10. Carmel, 8
T12. Somers, 6
T12. Poughkeepsie (No. 2), 6
T12. FDR-Hyde Park, 6
T15. Gorton, 4
T15. John Jay-East Fishkill, 4
T17. Cornwall (No. 2), 2
T17. Wallkill, 2
The following did not score:
Newburgh (No. 2)
Pleasantville (No. 2)
Carmel (No. 2)
Arlington (No. 2)
Somers (No. 2)
Arlington (No. 3)
Pleasantville (No. 3)
FDR-Hyde Park (No. 2)
Wallkill (No. 2)
Bench press — 1. Arlington, 2. Poughkeepsie, 3. Somers, 4. Cornwall, 5. Mount Vernon
Farmer walk — 1. Arlington, 2. Mount Vernon, 3. NFA, 4. New Fairfield, 5. Brewster
Root hog — 1. Putnam Valley, 2. Carmel, 3. Cornwall, 4. Gorton, 5. Wallkill
Tire flip — 1. Arlington, 2. NFA, 3. Brewster, 4. Poughkeepsie, 5. Cornwall
Shiver — 1. Brewster, 2. NFA, 3. FDR, 4. Red Hook (No. 2), 5. Arlington
QB sack — 1. Mount Vernon, Cornwall, 3. Red Hook (No. 2), 4. Brewster, 5. NFA
5-man — 1. NFA, 2. Poughkeepsie, 3. Poughkeepsie (No. 2), 4. Gorton, 5. Arlington
Bag toss — 1. Arlington
Mystery mountain stack — 1. NFA, 2. Lourdes, 3. Cornwall, 4. Arlington, 5. Cornwall (No. 2)
Tug o’ war — 1. Arlington, 2. NFA