COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - It's finally time for football. Or, at least, for high school football practice.
Prep teams in Georgia and Alabama were allowed to begin fall practice on Monday. The Pacelli Vikings didn't bother waiting until first light. New Vikings head coach Randy Grace revived an old Pacelli tradition and held Midnight Madness, with the fall's first practice at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning.
"What we're trying to do is find some intensity and revive the tradition that's been here in the past," Grace said. "The Pacelli teams in the past have always brought intensity and heart to the field and that's what we're trying to bring back. I'll tell you what -- those kids, they're making that real easy right now." >
Senior defensive back Drew Spikes seemed to enjoy the novelty of practicing and midnight.
"It's different," Spikes said. "It's a lot of fun. It's the first time we've hit, so we just can't wait to get out of that locker room, walk on down to the field, and hit somebody.
Senior linebacker Anthony Huff agreed.
"It was exciting. It got the blood rushing and I'm ready to hit some more. It's just a wonderful experience. We're ready for the season and ready to beat some guys."
Beating guys is not what the Vikings did last season, as they ran the table in reverse, going 0-10. But now Grace has begun what he hopes is a rebuilding process. With two dozen freshmen at practice on the first day, a lot of that rebuilding will be up to the leadership of the upperclassmen, was seem ready to buy into their roles.
"If I see a young guy struggling," Huff said, "I take him aside, straighten him up, tell him he has four years going to go by fast, and we just get through it."
Spikes feels pride in being asked to be a mentor.
"I've been at this school since I've been in kindergarten," he said. "I've always wanted to be a Viking, and I am. Don't get me wrong, these past few seasons have been hard, but you've got to keep your head up, you've got to stay positive. And that's what we're doing right now -- at midnight, hitting somebody."