The high school football team started its first padded practice at 11:59 p.m. Aug. 1

ATASCADERO — On Monday, Aug. 1, at precisely 11:59 p.m., Atascadero High School’s football team had its first fully padded practice at Memorial Stadium. 

It’s a tradition called “Midnight Madness,” and it started at the college basketball level in the 1970s. The idea spread to college and high school football, and AHS began participating with its own version of Midnight Madness in 2013.

“Midnight Madness ends up being our first padded practice,” said head coach Vic Cooper.


Though football is a year-round sport, there are times when teams cannot play in pads because of the sport’s rules and making sure that the players give their bodies proper rest from the full-contact elements of football. 

“We’ve been conditioning and training since January, including all summer,” stated Cooper. “Now it’s [the team’s] first opportunity to have full pads after all that time of working out, training, and getting ready for it. So it’s kind of exciting. We do it because that’s the first day that we can put on full pads.”

Friends, family members, AHS students, school alumni, former football players, and football fans from the community all showed up for practice.

“It’s an opportunity where they can be a little bit closer. They get to see what a practice is, as opposed to a game, and so that’s fun for them,” Cooper added.

This year’s Midnight Madness lasted a good two hours, and Memorial Stadium was empty a little before 2 a.m.

“We spend a lot of time focusing on the tackling and blocking techniques,” Cooper added. “And then we finish up with what we call an Oklahoma drill.”

The Oklahoma drill is a blocking drill when two players face off against each other in a corridor set by tackling dummies. It is considered the first instance of contact during the practice season.

This year, the AHS football team has a lot of strong return players, as well as a brand new quarterback. 

“We’re pretty excited about seeing what we can put out on the field on Friday nights,” added Cooper.

The Greyhounds’ first official game will take place on Aug. 19 against Santa Ynez.