Eric Bishop, new coach of the Tigers, scheduled that midnight practice to coincide with the first day pads may be worn on Georgia football fields.
The Tigers didn’t actually start their Midnight Madness practice until about 12:25 a.m., though, because of an unplanned interruption.
Bishop said the team waited until a midnight storm finished dumping a modest amount of rainfall on the area, including Tiger Stadium, before the players could sink their cleats into the football field.
“It was tough holding our players down until it passed,” Bishop said, “but once they got out there they were pretty excited and we had a spirited practice.”
He said the rain disappeared quickly and the Tigers soon were running their drills and gaining the practice experience they hope will help build toward a successful season.
“Once we got on the field, it didn’t rain again and we were able to work nonstop from that point,” he said.
Bishop said the only real hiccup involved one set of stadium lights that initially didn’t come on.
He said the weather snag didn’t affect the practice and the one set of lights came on a short time later.
The coach said the late night start was intended to liven up practice and set the tone for the upcoming season.
“We’re one of the first teams to start practice,” Bishop said. “We want to use this to work hard and help us get prepared for the season.”
The coach said a few other schools around the state also held the midnight practices, noting they were also taking a page from the midnight NCAA basketball practices that are now so common in kicking off roundball action.
Bishop said Thursday’s early morning practice was popular with his Tigers.
“The kids were excited from the start,” Bishop said. “We had our offensive and defensive teams in our meeting rooms prior to practice and covered what we’d do.”
He said that helped make the practice go smoother.
Bishop is hoping the practice is a first step toward a very successful season.
The Tigers appear stocked with enough experience to make reaching the playoffs a realistic possibility and showed some serious size and speed on the practice field.
Bishop said while Adairsville does not having an overwhelming number of starters returning, there are a lot of Tigers carrying around a lot of experience with them.
“We had a lot of kids playing last year and our youngers kids gained some quality experience,” he said. “We were rolling in a lot of kids in and out the last four games, so we probably have as much depth as we’ve had the last four or five years.
“They are not 10- and 11-game starters, but they are kids with a good deal of playing time.”
He said offensively there are five returning starters — including a quarterback and running back — and offensively the school probably has from 12 to 14 players who saw quality minutes last year.
Bishop said it’s a similar situation on the other side of the ball.
“Defensively we lost a good bit of talent,” he said. “We have a defensive lineman returning and have five defensive backs and linebackers plus six or seven players who saw a lot of playing time last year.”
Bishop said the players are approaching the upcoming season on a serious note and he has seen a resulting increase in their strength, speed and agility on the playing field.
“We’ve had a great summer in the weight room,” he said. “Our attendance has been good. We changed some things around and we are seeing some improvement.”