Knights Looking Forward to Pair of Summer State Competitions

After spending the first few weeks of summer break locked in during strength and conditioning sessions, about a dozen Harker Heights High School linemen are making a trip to Abilene to compete in the Hardin-Simmons University State Lineman Challenge.


BlockingThe 2024 lineman challenge is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, June 22 at Shelton Stadium.Working on form

Fernando Rodriguez and Patrick Ramirez, two Knights linemen, took a break from a recent strength and conditioning session to discuss the upcoming event, and they both said they are ready and felt prepared for this weekend.


Rodriguez said the linemen were happy they qualified but that there still is work to be done. Ramirez agreed and also emphasized that one goal during the competition is to go out there and have fun, while still putting in the effort to win.


Although this lineman challenge is during the offseason, they both expressed there are things to take from the experience and bring into the regular season.


Both said being focused on and paying attention to the little details now will benefit them down the line in the regular season. Rodriguez said “Doing the little things, paying attention to the little details and staying disciplined throughout” will be key to a successful performance this weekend and moving forward.


Since they narrowly missed out on their goal last year of reaching the State Lineman Challenge, this year the players said they are even more ready and excited to be out there.


“This time around, the team must go out there and stay connected and focused no matter what,” Rodriguez said.


A week after the linemen take on tests such as the tire flip, dumbbell relay and Tug-of-war, the Knights 7-on-7 team will play in the Texas 7-on-7 State Tournament. It will be their fourth time in the tournament, which began in 1998. Their other three appearances were 2016, 2021, and 2022.


The two-day tournament starts on June 28 at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station. The Knights were drawn into Pool P with Byron Nelson, Laredo United and Manvel. Pool games begin at 1:45 p.m. For more information about the tournament, visit here.


Kai McMillan took time to speak about the upcoming tournament, saying he’s excited and ready to go. What McMillan is looking forward to the most is seeing the team improve.


Throwing the ball“It’s a big difference from playing in prelims to going to state, and I want to see if our team can exceed our expectations,” said McMillan, who helped the Knights go 4-0 at the Midlothian state qualifying tournament earlier this month, a showing that clinched Harker Heights’ spot in College Station.


Heights is entering the tournament this year with sophomore quarterback Hudson Humble. McMillan shared his excitement about playing with Humble saying, “I'm excited to see him move the ball around get the offense flowing and making the right reads.”


With some time to go still before first kickoff of the 2024 season, McMillan still believes there are things to take from the tournament that will help moving forward.


“This will be a good time to work on our communication, even work on things like our route depth and our angles. Then we get into the detailed things like ball release points, what defenses work better with different offenses. And really just learning to adapt,” McMillan said.


Photos by Josh Weaver, KISD Communications