Southern Wayne kicks off season at 12:01 a.m. Monday
By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on July 30, 2007 1:47 PM
DUDLEY -- In the black of night, stadium lights glowed from Southern Wayne High School welcoming the 2007 football season Monday morning.
And one minute after the stroke of midnight, the Saints' varsity football team took the field for their first practice of the season. The two-hour session, conducted in comfortable temperatures, ended with a hearty breakfast of eggs, sausage and grits.
"I think our kids enjoy coming out for the midnight madness," said veteran Southern Wayne head coach Bob Warren. "It's a great way to kick things off. We're looking forward to getting started."
After handing out practice jerseys and helmets, the players mingled with each other while the countdown began until the midnight hour.
"I can't wait until football season starts," said senior center J.D. Medlin. "I tried taking a nap before tonight, but I couldn't. I'm ready to go -- we're all ready to go."
When the clock finally hit midnight, Warren gathered his team and spoke regarding expectations for the new season. He stressed the importance of working hard and leading by example while also stressing discipline.
Once the speech concluded, the Southern Wayne players stepped onto the dew-covered field, under the moonlit sky. The anxious players all shared the same joy in practicing in the cool of night instead of under the late-summer sun.
"If we could do this every night, this would be great," said Medlin. "The weather is fine. There might be a few bugs, but this is great."
The early hours didn't seem to affect players either, although there were a few yawns among coaches and spectators.
"It's unique, being up before everyone else," said senior linebacker John Futrell.
Before touching the ball, the players lined up for stretching and calisthenics.
"We just like to get things started and have a smooth practice tonight," said Warren. "We put in some basic plays and get things moving. It's all about how quickly we can get these guys to gel together."
Warren worked with the offensive line on blocking schemes while his assistants worked with backs and receivers on technique and ball control.
The light practice in just helmets and shorts helps fuel the fire until the day comes that every player looks forward to -- putting on the pads.
"That's the greatest thing when we strap on the pads," said Medlin. "Everyone wants to hit. Everyone wants to prove something.
"We hit, that's what we do."
For now though, the coaches will be focusing on finding positions for players and trying to fill holes from graduation.
"We've got a good nucleus coming back. We just have to get guys in the right spots and get them working hard," said Warren. "It's that time of year. It's time to get started."
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