PILOT MOUNTAIN — At 12:01 a.m., East Surry’s football team took the field for its first official practice of the 2013 season.
Fans turned out to cheer on the team at Midnight Madness, an annual tradition under Head Coach David Diamont.
“The football gods must be smiling on us,” Diamont said Wednesday evening. Weather forecasts showed showers in Pilot Mountain, but the storms bypassed the school. “We are very excited about the start of the new season.”
The varsity and JV teams ran out onto the field and went through stretching exercises. Then the teams went through offensive and defensive drills as the fans cheered each nice play.
In one defensive drill, the running back, or rabbit, would take a pitch and race to the outside and turn the corner to go up the field. The defenders had to take the proper angle to reach the rabbit and touch him with two hands without getting too wide and allowing cutback lanes.
A playful Diamont whispered to the rabbits to run a reverse, which caught the defense off-guard and drew a big “oooh” from the crowd as the second back raced up the left sideline untouched.
“We had a very enthusiastic first practice,” said Diamont.
“The first practice is more rah, rah,” he admitted. However, “starting with second practice, it gets more serious. Every day we want them to walk off the field better than they walked on.”
The defense has eight of the 11 starters returning, while the offense has six returning starters.
“Our players have great senior leadership,” the coach said.
The Cardinals will open the season Aug. 23 at Surry Central in a nonconference game.
Unlike previous years where the two teams were in the Northwest 1A/2A together, the 1A and 2A teams have been split up into separate leagues.
The home opener is Aug. 30 against Starmount. Homecoming is Oct. 18 against Bishop McGuinness.