Packers hold midnight madness

Published 9:09 pm Monday, August 15, 2011

From left, Alex Hepler, Marques Kenison and Marucs Stoulil move a tire during the Austin Packers' annual Midnight Madness practice at Art Hass Stadium early Monday morning.

The Austin football team doesn’t play its first game for another three weeks, but the season kicked off at Art Hass Stadium with the annual midnight madness practice very early Monday morning.

As usual, the practice gave players a chance to show what they can do at kicker, quarterback and receiver.

They also were able to show their athleticism during an obstacle course drill.

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While there was a lot of running, the primary purpose of midnight madness is to get in the spirit of football.

“We come out here and have a good time an that’s what this is. It’s mostly to get excited about football,” Austin head coach Matt Schmit said. “The kids really enjoy it and it’s something we’ll keep doing.”

Austin sophomore Zach Wessels goes up to grab a pass while being surrounded by three defenders at Midnight Madness practice in Art Hass Stadium early Monday morning. -- Rocky Hulne/

For players like sophomore Corey Hepler, the practice was a good chance to get noticed by the coaches. Hepler is a sophomore who played running back last season, and after lifting three times per week all summer, he’s looking to play his way on to the varsity team.

“I was pretty excited for (midnight madness) and we’ve been looking forward to it all summer,” Hepler said. “I’m going to work hard in practice and I’m trying to be on varsity this year.”

While Hepler is motivated to make the squad, he’d also like to see a change in the Packers this year. Last year, Austin went 0-9 overall as it struggled on both sides of the ball.

“We’ve got to know our plays and know what we’re doing,” Hepler said. “We’ve also got to stay in the weight room, because we don’t have the fastest team or the biggest team. We’ve got to get faster and bigger and we’ve got to play the smartest.”

Schmit hopes his squad can keep a positive focus as it prepares for the season — which opens with a home game against Red Wing Friday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m.

“Before we even came out we talked about not being in awe of other people,” Schmit said. “The thought is that someone else is always better, but we do have some talent here. We have to believe in what we can do and what we’re capable of doing. We certainly have a lot of work to do, but we can’t have that attitude right out of the gate.”