Linemen have a unique bond.
They share a voracious appetite and fill door frames when entering a room. They also enjoy driving opponents 7 yards upfield to establish dominance in the trenches.
And sometimes that bond leads rivals to become friends.
Darrin Paulo of Grant and Jonah Williams of Folsom met during the 2014 high school track and field season. They shared stories, compared technique for the shot put and discus and rooted for each other.
Then, during the football season, they followed each other’s progress as national recruits.
After crashing into each other a dozen or so times in the CIF Northern California Division I championship game at Sacramento State, won by Folsom, Paulo sought out Williams before hitting the showers.
When they compete in Saturday’s Sacramento Meet of Champions track meet at American River College, they’ll be easy to spot because of their Bunyan-esque beards.
“Linemen like that, too – beards,” Paulo said. “Linemen rock the beards better than others. The more hair, the better.”
Said Williams: “A good beard, it’s part of my routine. We have a huge amount of respect for each other. There’s a great friendly rivalry going. It’s always fun to compete with Darrin, to talk to him.”
Paulo and Williams are among the leaders in the shot put in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Paul leads with at 61 feet, 5 inches, and Williams’ best is 60-8. Also in the mix at Saturday’s meet is Michael Titherington of Jesuit, who has a best of 61-13/4.
In the discus, Paulo leads the section at 172-10 and Williams is second at 166-6.
Though Williams is a junior, both are competing in their final track and field seasons. Williams, 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds, recently gave a verbal commitment to Alabama, where he plans to enroll next January. Paulo, a 6-6, 326-pound senior, is headed to Utah to play left tackle.
“It’s a huge blessing,” Williams said of his scholarship and opportunity.
Added Paulo: “I’m so excited, and I’m relieved it takes all the financial burden off of my family. This is for them, too. The neat thing about track is it helps with footwork. Need good feet. And why be one-sport dimensional? Two sports are good. Doesn’t hurt at all. It’s great balance because football will become our life before long.”
Other top competitors to watch at the Meet of Champions:
▪ Fiona O’Keeffe of Davis has the section’s best time in the 1,600 meters (4 minutes, 48.78 seconds) and the state’s best time in the 3,200 (10:15.53).
▪ Arturo Sotomayor of Roseville is the section leader in the 800 (1:51.54) and second in the 1,600 (4:18.90). Willie Hall of Davis, with a best of 1:53.05, will challenge Sotomayor in the 800. Sean Kurdy of Jesuit, with a section-leading best of 4:16.63 is Sotomayor’s top challenger in the 1,600.
▪ Austin Laut of Oak Ridge is the state leader in the pole vault at 16 feet, 2 inches, and Nate Harper of Davis is tied for second in the section at 16 feet.
▪ Isaiah Holmes of Oakmont is second in the state in the high jump at 6-11.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.