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Football: Burning the midnight oil – Eagles start practice in the middle of the night

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, August 9, 2017
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Early to Work

EARLY TO WORK – Decatur players go through drills shortly after midnight Monday morning in the first practice of the season. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Shortly after 11:30 p.m. Sunday, senior Dylan Nation tossed around the football with the first few Decatur players to wander into the Eagle Activity Center.

As lightning flashed in the distance, Nation described a sense of electricity as he awaited the stroke of midnight and the start of the first practice of the 2017 season.

“We asked for it. It was our deal. We wanted to start as soon as we could,” Nation said.

“It’s going to be a great atmosphere. It’ll be cool for the fans to watch our first practice. Then most important, breakfast afterward.”

In preparation for the Midnight Madness workout, fellow senior Harrison Haney took a nap at 6 p.m. But as the midnight hour approached, the linebacker was eager to get on the field.

“It shows our attitude. We can’t wait to get started,” Haney said.

Helping Hand

HELPING HAND – Decatur assistant Jack Reeves gives water to Adrian Cantu during practice early Monday morning in the Eagle Activity Center. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The early morning workout was new for players and coaches alike. Decatur coach Mike Fuller was working on a second restless night.

“I’ve never in my life been able to sleep the night before two-a-days started. I couldn’t nap today because I was too fired up,” he said.

The eagerness showed with the first player showing up at 9:30 p.m. – more than two hours before the start of practice. By 11:45 p.m., the entire Decatur team was on the field and ready to go.

After a brief introduction and pep talk during a 15-minute wait for midnight, Fuller blew a whistle to start the first practice.

Offensive players started in the Eagle Activity Center, while the defense stayed up on the practice field with a refreshing cool breeze for an August morning. Thirty minutes into the practice, the skies opened with a brief shower, but the Eagles practiced through it.

Before the shower, fans sat in the stands and lined the fence around the practice field.

Joe Tate was one of the fans that came to watch his sophomore son, Levi.

“I’m just thrilled with the community spirit,” Tate said, pointing out the crowd.

He added that the cooler early morning weather beat the normal weather for two-a-days.

Shonda Elliott took in practice, watching her two senior sons Blain Upshaw and Noah Elliott.

“It’s their senior year. We had to be here,” Elliott said.

But she admitted that it will make for an early morning.

“We’ve got to be at work at 8 a.m.,” Elliott said.

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