After taking a year off, two Columbia County football teams will return to an old tradition that's a favorite among players and fans.
Harlem and Lakeside will participate in Midnight Madness practices when the full-contact practice period begins next week.
"We're getting started Monday morning, Aug. 6 at 12:01 a.m." Harlem athletics director and football coach Jimmie Lewis said. "We'll get them out there and hit a little and wrap up around 1:45."
Midnight Madness traditionally coincides with the first day the Georgia High School Association allows teams to participate in full-contact practices. This year, the GHSA set the date for Aug. 6. The night before, Lakeside and Harlem will take the field and await the stroke of midnight.
"It's fun for the kids and the fans," Lewis said. "When we did it two years ago, I think we had at least 300 people out there."
Midnight Madness was canceled around the county last year when it ran too close to the first day of school. The school year doesn't begin as early this year, which gave the football coaches a chance to bring back the midnight practices.
Even though this will be his first year leading the Panthers, Lakeside athletic director and football coach Jody Grooms said he's no stranger to the middle-of-the-night workout.
"We'd done it a few times and had some success with it," he said. "We're going to do it, but we've also got to make sure we're going to be productive the next morning."
Greenbrier, Evans and Augusta Christian Schools decided not to hold Midnight Madness this year. Greenbrier and Evans will begin full-contact practices on the morning of Aug. 6. Augusta Christian, as a member of the South Carolina Independent Schools Association, will begin practicing Monday.
All three coaches from Evans, Greenbrier and Augusta Christian cited similar problems with Midnight Madness.
"We've got seven days of two-a-days lined up for the week," Evans football coach Marty Jackson said. "Midnight Madness is great and awesome, and we used to start off our camp like that, but I felt like it costs us half a day of practice because everybody's so tired the next morning."
Local football teams will participate in daily or two-a-day practices for most of August.
Augusta Christian will kick off the 2007 high school football season on Friday, Aug. 24, with a season opener at Orangeburg Prep.
Evans, Greenbrier, Harlem and Lakeside will follow with their season openers on Friday, Aug. 31.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.