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WL Central, Skyline among teams across the state starting football season with ‘Midnight Madness’ practices

By: Jeff Dullack, August 10, 2015, 4:57 pm

Walled Lake – For football teams throughout the state, Monday is along the lines of a holiday, as players and coaches anticipate the start of the 2015 season with practices beginning.

But for some teams across Michigan, they chose to end the wait as soon as they could.

Several teams opened up practice at 12:01 am on Monday morning, officially kicking off the 2015 season.

Among the teams starting just after midnight were Walled Lake Central, one of the first schools to hold the midnight practice and held its ‘Midnight Madness’ for a 12th straight year, and Ann Arbor Skyline, holding its midnight practice for the first time.

“Everybody is just excited about getting going,” Central coach Bob Meyer said. “Who wants to wait? You’re not going to sleep that night and that’s how we got this thing started, you weren’t going to sleep that night, kind of like Christmas Eve and you’re ready to get going, so why wait? Our kids get really pumped up and it’s become a tradition for us and I’m glad to see that other teams are picking it up and I hope they enjoy it as much as we do.”

As Skyline looks to bounce back from an 0-9 season last year, the Eagles are looking to continue improving, while also building tradition in a program that is still relatively new.

“We just wanted to try and get out in front,” Skyline coach Chanterius Brock said. “I was telling somebody earlier, we want to take every opportunity to get better and do things different and build tradition. Being such a new school, everything we do, we’re trying to establish something with it and have it be something we can build on and we felt like this would be a great opportunity to start a tradition here and get out in front.”

For the players at Central, the midnight practice is something that doesn’t gets old for them, but the excitement level remains the same each year as they look forward to being among the first teams to hit the practice field in the state.

“It doesn’t get old, we do this every single time,” senior defensive end and Notre Dame commit Ade Ogundeji said. “It’s become a tradition at Central, so it never gets old.”

Senior Josh Leimbach, who got a chance to see Central’s ‘Midnight Madness’ when his brother was on the team a few years ago and said that it was something he definitely wanted to partake in.

“Seeing my brother doing it showed me what I had a chance to do when I got older,” he said. “So I always wanted to do this.”

Last season, Central finished the year with a 9-4 record and advanced to the regional final in the playoffs.

Meyer said that while some of the coaches may get tired during the practice, he has yet to see any excitement from his players taper off.

“Maybe from the coaches’ perspective, because it’s a long night and we’re old, but not from the kids,” he said. “Every year, I ask the kids if they want to continue and every single one of them says yes. This has become our big thing and we think it gives us an advantage.”

The Skyline players quickly embraced the midnight practice and the idea of getting on the practice field as soon as possible as they look to improve from last season.

Senior linebacker and USC commit, Daelin Hayes, who transferred to Skyline for his senior year, said that he was impressed with what he saw from his teammates during the first practice of the year.

“Midnight Madness is phenomenal,” he said. “The energy of these guys and the intensity that we had, I’m surprised we’re going this hard at 2:00 in the morning. But it was phenomenal being able to come out and compete with great teammates at a great school in a great team atmosphere and guys who are willing to compete at any given moment. The will to compete on this team is ridiculous and I think that’s going to be the edge for us this season.”

Skyline receiver and Michigan State commit Hunter Rison said that waiting for midnight to come around to be able to take the field was a difficult part, but said that once his team took the field, the practice turned out to be a success.

“I hate it (the wait) kind of, it’s kind of like a late game, you have to wait for it and get prepared, but it’s very fulfilling to know that we have these types of facilities and we can come out here at this time,” he said. “Our athletic director is out here and there are parents that were willing to stay out here so I was very excited to see what it turned out to be and it turned out to be a good practice.”

Both Walled Lake Central and Skyline will return to a normal practice schedule during the day, starting on Tuesday.