Midnight madness: Decatur kicks off 2018 season

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, August 8, 2018
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Early Start

EARLY START – Decatur players go through drills shortly after midnight Monday. The Eagles held their second annual Midnight Madness practice to kick off the 2018 season. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

As the clock neared midnight Sunday, Decatur head coach Mike Fuller gathered his team inside the Eagle Activity Center.

The first practice of the 2018 season was almost upon them, but Fuller wanted to give his squad a quick pep talk.

And the message was simple.

“Eagle fight never dies!” Fuller shouted.

Knocked Down

KNOCKED DOWN – Two Decatur players go for a ball during a drill Monday morning. The Eagles held their second annual Midnight Madness practice to kick off the 2018 season. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For the second year in a row, Decatur took the field for its Midnight Madness practice to officially kick off the season. Schools that did not participate in spring football were able to start practicing as early as midnight Monday morning.

Parents, alumni, students and fans lined the bleachers and field to watch the Eagles for the first time since last December.

“It’s pretty inspiring to have a bunch of people come out and watch a practice,” Fuller said. “We get great effort and good attention levels. Last year was the first time we did it, and it was pretty fun.”

One player not on the field for Decatur was senior quarterback Wilson Hicks.

The 2017 Wise County MVP and Male Athlete of the Year told the Messenger last week he would not play football this year. He threw for 3,887 yards and 37 touchdowns last season and was honorable mention on the Associated Press’ 4A all-state team.

Hicks has already committed to play baseball at Oklahoma State University.

Taking Hicks’ spot under center is Fuller’s son, Roman. The 6-3 junior played in nine games in 2017 and completed 63.8 percent of his passes, throwing for 446 yards and four touchdowns. Roman also helped Decatur’s 7-on-7 team qualify for the state tournament in June.

Even though he is taking over for an all-state quarterback, Roman said he is not feeling any pressure.

“I’ve grown up with this offense my whole life,” Roman said. “I know it like the back of my hand.”

Added Mike: “We’re going to need [Roman] to do the best job he can every day, the same as we need from our guards, receivers and linebackers. He has to be locked in on what he has to do. He did great in 7-on-7 and got better every [game].”

Cheering Section

CHEERING SECTION – Fans, students and alumni gathered Monday morning to watch Decatur during its second annual Midnight Madness practice. The Eagles open the season on the road Friday, Aug. 31 at Kennedale. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Decatur is coming off an 8-5 mark in 2017.

The Eagles finished third in District 4-4A Division I and advanced to the Region I quarterfinals for the first time since 2013. But Decatur is ready to go even farther this year.

“That’s what we always want to do – take another step,” Mike said. “We have a core group of guys that have really been committed and worked their tail off all offseason and summer. They’re ready.”

Decatur opens the season Friday, Aug. 31, at Kennedale. The Eagles begin district play at home Oct. 12 against Wichita Falls Hirschi.

The Huskies beat Decatur twice last year, including a 58-28 defeat to end the Eagles’ season. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football projected Decatur and Hirschi to meet in the 4A Region I final.

“I think our best weapon right now is everyone doesn’t think we’re as good as we are,” Roman said. “We don’t look big, and we don’t look fast. We come out there and get on them quick. I think that will let us go a long way.”

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