While most Grand Strand high school football teams were taking part in their first scrimmage of fall practice on Friday night, North Carolina teams had to wait until 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning before they could hold their first full-contact drills.
And when the time came to turn the lights on for West Brunswick High's midnight showcase -- nothing happened. The Trojans planned to hold their first full-contact workout on their football field, but the lights to the stadium wouldn't come on so they had to move the practice to the outfield of their baseball stadium.
It did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm surrounding the Trojans program, which led by top-100 recruit Alfy Hill is expected to be much improved this season.
``We tested them just the other day, and they worked fine,'' West Brunswick athletic director John Floyd said. ``But when we flipped the switch [on Friday night] they didn't come on. We must have blown a fuse.''
The Trojans are coming off a 6-6 season in which they lost to Overhills 51-27 in the first round of the Class 3-A playoffs. Along with returning a number of key starters from 2008, West Brunswick also moves into a reconfigured Waccamaw 2-A/3-A Conference that allows it to avoid the travel and elevated competition that came with playing in a Class 3-A/4-A conference with teams from Wilmington.
South Columbus coach Jake Fonvielle said earlier this week his team also had plans to hold a practice at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. While the Stallions have regularly held a midnight practice to begin full-contact workouts, Fletcher said this was a first during his seven-year tenure at West Brunswick.
``We did it last year, except we did it on the very first day when you couldn't hit,'' Fletcher said. ``And we started thinking, `That is not very smart.'hs''
The Trojans had a full day Friday, which included team pictures, a barbecue and a movie leading up to the midnight practice, which lasted about an hour and a half.
Aside from the lights in the stadium not working, the biggest surprise of the night was Hill playing middle linebacker. The senior had played defensive end as a junior, but Fletcher said Hill's ability to run made him a better fit in the middle of the Trojans' defense. Hill and senior defensive end Dylan Bowman anchor what is expected to be an outstanding defensive unit.
Hill said Saturday morning that his list of schools is down to North Carolina and Alabama and that the two schools were ''even'' at this point. Bowman said he is considering Liberty and North Carolina A&T.