The Muskego Hitmen Football Team: From Failure To Success!

The Muskego Hitmen football team was started for 3 reasons: fun, love of the game and a reason to get back out on the field ... Learn how the team went from failure to champions. Includes the importance of training for linemen!

The Muskego Hitmen football team was started for 3 reasons: fun, love of the game and a reason to get back out on the field with my old friends again. Or so I thought. I never thought the Hitmen would get as big as we are today, 5 years ago. It has been mind-blowing to say the least.

Two conference championships and One Ironbowl championship, franchise of the year, 4 playoff appearances, coach of the year and multiple all-star awards in 4 years isn't to bad for a team that started off as the West Milwaukee Mean Machines.

Mean Machines
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West Milwaukee Mean Machines.

The Mean Machines had to have been the worst football team I have ever been around - if you could even call that a team. In its 2 years of existence compiled a total of two wins and 18 loses.

I started playing with the Mean Machines back in 2001. I was new to the Ironman Football league and with the motley crew we had, I figured a 1-9 season wasn't all that bad. Until the following year where we went 1-9 for a second season.

Before that year was even over I knew I had to do something and make a change. My cousin Nick Seliger and I confronted the owner (Jarod Sagorac) of the Mean Machines at the time and told him I was going to start my own team based out of my home city of Muskego.

Nick Seliger
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Nick Seliger.

Jarod Sagorac and I stated he could come with me if he wanted and I would be in charge of recruiting the players to fill the roster. Nick and I selected a handful of guys from the Mean Machines and set out to get the team running. We called everyone from Muskego that had football could play ball. We were pulling guys out of the college schedule to play for us- And they actually came. The Hitmen were born.

The Hitmen
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The Hitmen Were Born.

The beginning of the 2003 season started off slow for us, but after newly acquired head coach Jason Blawat everything fell into place. After our 1-3 start we finished with a 6-5 record, a National Conference Championship, and a trip to Ironbowl XII where we were defeated by the Bay View Beasts 19-0.

The Hitmen
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Everythin Fell Into Place.

The 2004 season started off slow just like the last. We were defeated by the Beast in a rematch game. But after that it must have been a wake-up call for us because we then posted a 4-game winning streak and finished off the season at 7-3, a conference championship, and an Ironbowl 8 Championship against the nationally rated, heavily favored Milwaukee Bulldogs 14-0. A sweet ending to a great season.

The Hitmen
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A Sweet Ending To A Great Season.

After our championship year the team and I figured to be on a role. We started the 2005 season strong with a big rematch win over the Milwaukee Bulldogs. I have seen nothing but repeat in our future.

We continued to dominate the competition finishing the season off perfect, 10-0. But the dream season ended abruptly with a 1st round playoff loss to our long standing rivals - the Madison Seminoles 22-7. We fell short, for a chance at a repeat season.

The 2006 season was not a lucky year for the Hitmen. Losing five games by a total of twelve points. The season was full of many injuries. Losing 3 defensive starters and 2 offensive starters posed to be a problem for the year. We finished the year in the 1st round of the playoffs again falling to Conference rival Madison for the second consecutive year 7-6. We finished the season with a 5-5 record.

This year is looking up for the Hitmen. 23 new faces were at this year's first team tryout and many more are expected to make the second this Saturday. The talent this year looks to be the best in Hitmen history, and with a returning coaching staff we look to add another Irownbowl trophy to the trophy case.

The Hitmen
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This Year Is Looking Up For The Hitmen.

Keep an eye on the Muskego Hitmen in 2007. We have a lot of big plans for Athletes.com. You will watch us tear through the 2007 IFL season and we will be sharing tips on training, techniques and nutrition to help bring your game to the next level!

The Hitmen
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Keep An Eye On The Muskego Hitmen In 2007.


Importance Of Training For Lineman
Exercise For Linemen (Off/Def)
Article By:
Eric 'The Animal' Satterwhite #90 Defensive End
Brett 'Butter' Butterbrodt #65 Offensive Guard

As an athlete you should strive to become what the Muskego Hitmen call, "Bullet Proof." Meaning that your training program should look to work on all areas of athleticism - Strength, power, joint stability, flexibility, speed and quickness - to name a few. When you step on the field, it doesn't matter who lines up across from you, you will have a way to beat them and not the other way around.

Offensive and Defensive linemen have a tough spot as they are often referred to as the unskilled position. If you ask us, blocking someone that does not want to be blocked or getting by someone who does not want you to get by them are two of the hardest skills in football!

Lineman
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One Of The Hardest Skills In Football.

The muscles involved in doing so are common among many exercises, however, the way they work together - joint angles, movement patterns, body position, speed of the movement and coordination of all of these things - is far from common.

How would one train for that in a normal gym? You need strong shoulders, triceps and chest muscle for blocking, so we should use the bench press, right? No. The Muskego Hitmen love big strong lineman, but we do not like linemen who are good at lying on their back and pushing things off of them.

The purpose of this article is to expose you to a number of exercises that aim to use your body in ways similar to the way you might use in the trenches.


Pass & Catch:

    The pass and catch is a great warm up exercise that will use just about every muscle in your body. The basic idea is to throw a medicine ball and catch it. Easy enough, right?

    Start:

      Start by lying on the floor with a 6-to-8-pound medicine ball on your chest like you were going to d a chest pass in basketball. You may either have you knees bent or completely straight. Having them straight will make the exercise harder. Throw the ball as high as you can, you want the ball to land where your hips were on the floor.

    End:

      Get up as quickly as you can and catch the ball BEFORE it bounces once. Catch the ball in a good athletic position - Knees over your toes, your shoulders over your knees, head up and hands in front of you just like you were ready to hit someone. Brett Butterbrodt, or "Butter" as we call him, does a nice job here. The video makes him look like a pro, but it took him about 6 or 7 practice tries before he actually got it to look good. It is a lot harder than it looks. The big guy in the red shirt couldn't do it at all. So start light. We are using a 6-pound ball in this video.

    Programming:

      This is a power and quickness exercise. You could use this as a warm up exercise or superset this with heavy bench presses. Go for about 4 or 5 throws then rest. 2 or 3 sets should get you ready to train! As the muscles involved become stronger and you become quicker, you may increase the weight of the ball. You can use this one all year, preseason, in-season or in the off-season.

Pass & Catch Pass & Catch
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Pass & Catch.
Video: WMV


Standing Chest Press:

    The standing chest press takes our philosophy (we don't want lineman who are good at lying on their back) and brings it to life.

    Start:

      Here we are using the Freemotion Cable Cross Machine. Any functional trainer machine will do. We set the arms to a height that the ends would be inline with Butter's Shoulders when he was standing upright, and slightly wider than his shoulders.

      Grab the handles and walk out a few steps, get into that good athletic position again. Elbows in tight to your body and hands up.

    End:

      With an explosive movement fully extend your arms, keeping your hands no more than a foot apart as this is about the size of the target area for you Lineman.

      Muscles worked:

      • Chest
      • Triceps
      • Shoulders
      • The Posterior Chain (Low back, glutes, hamstrings & calves)

      We are big on the posterior chain as it tends to be the weak link. You will find out quickly just how much you use your legs to keep from being yanked back with this exercise.

        A note for the feet. You want your feet about shoulder width apart OR about the width where you play. Butter was taught at an early age to have his feet slightly wider and this is where he is the strongest. As a result we also have him deadlift from the sumo stance to further develop his strength from the same position.

    Programming:

      This exercise can be use as either a power or strength exercise. Butter is doing the power version in the video. For power, you want the weight slightly lighter and perform the reps quickly and in rapid succession. No more than 6. For strength load up the weight and grind out 4 - 8 reps.

      Use on chest days, however, don't spend a lot of your time on chest. During the pre season and in season we recommend flat benching once a week or every other week Be sure you develop strength BEFORE you work on power. Work on brute strength in the off-season and move to power while maintaining strength about 2 months before practice and mini camps.

Standing Chest Press Standing Chest Press
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Standing Chest Press.
Video: WMV


Inverted Hack Squat:

    The inverted hack squat is what we refer to as the granddaddy exercise for lineman. This mimics that initial explosion off of the line. Not only the joint angles and movements, but the body orientation as well, which is difficult to replicate in a weight room. Again working on the ever important posterior chain. Learn to love this exercise!

    Muscles Worked:

    • Shoulders
    • Traps
    • Triceps
    • Low Back
    • Hips
    • Quads
    • Hamstrings
    • Calves

    Start:

      To start you will have to get in to the hack squat machine up side down. That is, with your forehead against the head rest. You want your heels under your butt and about shoulder width apart starting in that good athletic position again.

    End:

      From there you will initiate what is called Triple Extension - Extension from the hip, knee and ankles - a powerful movement. Most athletes will get the knee extension, which is the easy part. What we want is that the heels come of the plat form and the pop in the Hips.

      Butter does a great job of letting this machine know who's the boss! Notice how the sled comes off of his body when he pops his hips - That's what we want. If you can do that, the defenders will be counting stars.

    Programming:

      Another exercise that can be used to develop power or strength, but as before, strength before power. Start by working on increasing the poundage at first utilizing 3-5 sets of 4-8 reps. Once or twice a week.

Inverted Hack Squat Inverted Hack Squat
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Inverted Hack Squat.
Video: WMV


The Power Catch:

    The Power catch is a good way for beginners with explosive lifts to learn the first few difficult steps. It is most helpful in learning to lift the elbow high for cleans and the snatch.

    Start:

      With 1 dumbbell, start in the good athletic position again, essentially a ¼ squat, with the db between your legs. Slightly below the knee - feet about shoulder width apart

    End:

      Again utilizing the triple extension you want to use the momentum generated by your legs to move the dumbbell up to about chin height keeping your elbow up high in the air. You will then LET GO of the dumbbell and catch it with the other hand. It is NOT an arm exercise.

      Think of your arm merely as a guide for the dumbbell. While your arms will be doing some work we want your hips generating the majority of the power. We are looking for that pop of the hips. Keep the DB close to your body; do not let it drift away from you.

      TIP - Watch the weight & not the mirror. You'll miss the db!

    Programming:

      This is a power exercise and should be used during those pre / in-season times. You would want to work your power exercises and the beginning of your workout as they require a lot of musculature to work in harmony and if any of it is tired you will not be getting the full benefit of the movements. 4 to 5 sets for 2 to 4 reps (per arm) is plenty. Always remember, strength before power, you should be doing heavy squats and deadlifts long before you attempt these kinds of exercises.

The Power Catch
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The Power Catch.
Video: WMV


DB Power Snatch:

    The DB power snatch is a continuation of the power catch. On top of the power and explosiveness it adds a dimension of stability, abdominal and low back strength to the picture making for a rather difficult exercise.

    Start:

      Same as for the Power Catch

    End:

      Now instead of switching hands in mid air, the db will stay in one hand until completion. You want the DB to travel all the way over head and slightly behind your ear - Elbow locked out. Dip down to get your body under the db; you will end up in a ¼ squat position - exactly as you started in - then stand up. This is NOT a press. If you find yourself getting the DB part way up and having to press it to lock out your elbow, it is too heavy.

      You have to really push through your feet and pop your hips. Eric Satterwhite AKA 'The Animal' does a great job of snapping the dumbbell all the way up.

      Tip - We are not generating momentum with a countermovement. From your starting position, we should not see the dumbbell go down before it goes up. Like a bullet out of a gun!

      Muscles Worked:

      • calves
      • hamstrings
      • quads
      • abs
      • lower back
      • shoulders
      • traps

The Power Catch The Power Catch
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DB Power Snatch.
Video: WMV


Barbell Horizontal Press:

    The horizontal press is an integration exercise that will call on shoulder strength and stability as well as grip strength to perform this exercise.

    Start:

      In a nutshell it is a standing barbell military press just with one arm. Start with a barbell in one hand holding it the opposite direction you would normally hold it for a military press.

    End:

      Press the bar overhead and hold for a 2-count. Do not lean, bend back or use your leg to jerk the weight up. This exercise is deceptively difficult and you may want to start with a shorter or lighter bar!

      This is a great exercise for developing, again the important posterior chain and dynamic abdominal strength. We want to make sure that for you offensive lineman, if you get you hands on someone, they go where you want them to go!

      This is a basic strength exercise; you can use it all year long.

      Muscles Worked:

      • Shoulders
      • Triceps
      • Low back forearms

Barbell Horizontal Press Barbell Horizontal Press
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Barbell Horizontal Press.
Video: WMV


Bench Throw:

    The bench throw is an upper body plyometric exercise. Just like plyometrics for your legs, the aim of this is to increase power in the muscles involved and increase tensile strength of the connective tissue around the joints involved.

    Start:

      Using a Smith Machine, line yourself up so the bar comes down across the nipple line. Keep both feet planted on the floor. With an explosive and forceful movement press the bar so it leaves your hands. Please set up the safety stops so that bar doesn't crush you and always use a spotter.

    End:

      Catch the bar, stopping its momentum before it touches your chest and continue to press it again. It is important NOT to catch the bar with your elbows locked - bad idea. You want to slow the bar down not bring it to a screeching Halt.

      WARNING. - The level of danger may out weigh the level of benefit for some athletes. Be sure to have an experience trainer or coach on hand before attempting this exercise. DO NOT do this with free weight always use a smith machine or similar piece of machinery for this exercise.

    Programming:

      This is another power based exercise

      Muscles Worked:

      • Chest
      • Tris
      • Shoulders

Bench Throw Bench Throw
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Bench Throw.
Video: WMV


Suspended Push-Up:

    The suspended push-up adds a dimension of stability to the good old fashion push-up. While football will always be a game of banging heads, over the past 5 or so years, the trench war has become more of a hand fight and a battle of body positioning more so than just running into the guy across from you as hard as you can. We like to utilize exercises that will help you gain control of your own limbs and help you learn to use the smaller muscle in conjunction with the larger ones.

    Start:

      Set the arms of the cable cross so they are about shoulder width and the handles are a couple feet off the floor. The lower the handles are, the harder the exercise becomes. Lock the weight stack or set it to the highest weight. And get into a push-up position.

    End:

      Perform a standard push-up

      Muscles Worked:

      • Chest
      • Shoulders
      • Triceps
      • Abdominals
      • Low back

      Tip. Try to keep your should close to the arms of the machine so you are pressing straight up and down. You will also have to go slow or the handles will start to drop on you. Also, putting more slack on the handles will increase the amount of instability.

    Programming:

      A good overall strengthening exercise you can do all year. 1 or 2 sets will be all you need to do.

Suspended Push-Up Suspended Push-Up
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Suspended Push-Up.
Video: WMV


Lateral Press:

    The lateral press an interesting exercise that works muscles in an unconventional way. We realized that free weight work against gravity which is always going down. However, in football there are times you are asked to work against resistance that is not going down or in the sagittal plane.

    Start:

      Move the arms of the machine to one notch lower than your shoulders. And about a foot apart. Get into your good athletic position, grab the handles and cross them over - so the left one in your right hand and vice versa. Now fully extend your arms out to the side, much like if you were doing the iron cross in gymnastics.

    End:

      This is tricky and difficult, but you want to bring your elbows into your sides while keeping your hands as war away from each other as possible and then straighten your arms back to the starting position.

      Muscles Worked:

      Shoulders Triceps Lower back Middle traps Rhomboids

      This is a great one for you linemen. For you defensive ends who get caught up in blocks on the move like a stretch block or a pulling guard. This will help you move the blockers to where you want them.

      Another deceptively difficult exercise that will not take a lot of weight.

    Programming:

      A good supplemental strength exercise that you can use all year.

Lateral Press Lateral Press
Click Image To Enlarge.
Lateral Press.
Video: WMV