08/01/09 — Saints start year with Midnight Madness

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Saints start year with Midnight Madness

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 1, 2009 11:42 PM

It was almost a normal season-opening practice. Players received their football equipment, walked through drills and cracked open the playbook.

The only thing missing was the heat and humidity.

Southern Wayne officially kicked off the high school football season with its annual midnight madness practice Saturday at 12:05 a.m. The Saints, as usual, became the first group of Wayne County players to snap their chin straps into place and start the annual ritual.

"The guys look forward to this every year and so do I," said Southern Wayne head coach Bob Warren. "It's hard to believe that it's already time to get things going."

Warren and his staff issued equipment, and collected physical forms while prospective varsity and junior varsity players moved to the bleachers for the coach's opening address.

"I am very excited about the team we have this season," said Warren. "I am glad to see so many faces, and I want everyone here to understand that we have to learn and we have to improve. If you're not serious about being here, you probably should do something other than football."

The first practice of the season drew 36 players, but only 32 turned in completed physicals and took the field. Just nine players indicated they had previous varsity experience.

Lacking varsity time can be both a blessing and a curse as young players bring enthusiasm but require time to learn their roles.

One of the Saints' heated position battles will be at quarterback where Quintin Smith and Thomas Farrell are vying to replace two-year starter Jordan Williams. Smith brings quick feet and a runner's mentality to the signature wing-T formation, while Farrell is more of an upright signal caller.

Both players showed flashes of ability during full-speed offensive drills and were complimented by a full stable of new faces in the backfield.

"It's really nice to see these kind of numbers at the first practice," said Warren. "Obviously we would love to have all our guys practicing, but tonight we have to start getting ready with the guys that are on the field."

After the workout was finished, players and coaches headed for the trailer where boosters prepared a hot breakfast. The meal has been a part of opening night since the midnight practice tradition began.

Southern Wayne will begin regularly scheduled practices at 4 p.m. on Monday. With temperatures expected to be in the 90s throughout the week, Warren and his staff stressed the importance of hydration throughout the first practice.

The Saints will scrimmage Aug. 15 in the annual jamboree hosted by Southern Vance. Warren's team kicks off its season Aug. 21 at home against perennial power West Craven.