08/01/08 — Saints take the field for midnight practice

View Archive

Saints take the field for midnight practice

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 1, 2008 1:35 PM

DUDLEY -- When head coach Bob Warren blew his whistle at 12:08 this morning, it not only broke the near silence of the Wayne County night, but also signified the beginning of another football campaign at Southern Wayne High School.

The annual tradition known as "Midnight Madness" began with the collection of physical forms and a team meeting before players hit the field for the first workout of the fall.

"This is just a nice event to get things started and to get the guys excited," said Warren. "We have been doing this for about ten years now and every year it gets better and better."

Enthusiasm and effort were central themes for the early-morning practice.

"We are going to go with the guys we have here tonight, and we are going to see what kind of heart we have on this team," Warren told his players. "Last year was a great year, but that is over, and it is time to start working toward this season.

"I want to see excitement, and I want to see intensity."

After an extended display of stretching and calisthenics, players broke down by position for fundamental drills and offensive walk-throughs.

Returning starting quarterback Jordan Williams delivered the highlight of the full speed offensive workout by firing lasers to several different backs and receivers. The tall right-hander showcased his strong arm, hitting outside receivers on back-to-back deep routes.

A total of 31 players took part in the madness, with a handful more relegated to the sidelines without proper physical forms.

"These are all varsity players, or potential varsity players, so it is nice to see the amount of guys out for the first practice," said Warren. "In past years we have usually had around 25 players, so we have a handful more here tonight."

Even with temperatures hovering in the mid 70s Warren and his staff of assistants scheduled several water breaks into the practice agenda, taking time approximately every 20 minutes to stop and rehydrate.

"Monday we have to come out here and practice at 4:30 in the afternoon, so we might as well get used to taking the breaks tonight," said Warren. "It is going to be hot next week and we know that we need to take extra precautions."

After the two-hour, on-field workout came to a close, players and coaches were treated to a catered breakfast of eggs, grits, sausage and toast. The after-practice "snack" has been a staple since the event's inception.

"We make sure everyone gets a good meal," joked Warren. "The players always like to get to the food."

The Saints will enjoy the rest of today off before heading back to the field on Saturday morning. Practice officially begins today for schools in the News-Argus coverage area and statewide.