As soon as the clock signified it was August 4, the first day high school football teams were allowed to have practice, the Waynesville Tigers were on the field and ready

WAYNESVILLE — On Monday, August 4, at 12:01 a.m. the lights were on at Waynesville's high school football stadium.

Monday was the first day teams could have actual practices and Waynesville coach Rick Vernon said he and his team couldn't wait any longer to get down to business.

“We just wanted to do something a little different for our first practice,” Vernon said. “So we started it exactly when we could.”

The practice was an overwhelming success.

Vernon said parents came with stuff like watermelons and orange juice. Players raved over doing something out of the ordinary.

“It was a good time, everyone was energized and had fun with it,” quarterback Varon Martinez said. “But we all came ready to work too.”

The practice lasted until 2:00 a.m.

Martinez said while that sounds exhausting, it felt like a regular seven o'clock practice in the end.

One of his offensive guards disagrees.

“It was tiring, but we got through it,” Daren Garcia said, later admitting that it was “pretty fun.”

Both understood the reasoning behind it though.

The Tigers have to get excited and ready to chase down the Lakers, who trounced them in the district championship a year ago.

“It was to get a head start on the competition, definitely,” Martinez said. “It was to get enthusiasm with the guys. Two-a-days can get be a grueling process. So, [having that midnight practice] got everyone excited and ready to go.”

Garcia said he didn't need any convincing or pep talk. He's still smarting from that Camdenton game and he's ready for revenge.

“I think we were excited [and getting anxious] the first day of summer practice honestly,” he said.

One of the glaring issues Waynesville had from that game was the inability to move the ball.

Something that will likely aid them in that department will be a possibility to have an all-senior offensive line.

Martinez coming back with a full year under his belt won't hurt either.

The senior quarterback said he is working on trying to be more confident in his ability to pass the ball instead of just tucking the football and running with it.

“I really want to work on my passing,” Martinez said. “We've got read-option a lot and we're doing that a lot better this year. We have more triple-options working in, but my passing game is the biggest thing I want to improve.”

There's also been an added emphasis from the coaches on protecting the ball and coming out on the plus-side on turnovers.

“We're trying to cut down on as many turnovers as possible,” Martinez said. “One of the things we're stressing right now is trying to be plus-twelve. That means more interceptions and fumbles recovered on defense than given up on offense.”

The question is, will it all add up to overcome a 35-0 deficit?

Unfortunately fans, players and coaches will have to wait until October 3 to see.