There was a method to Matt McFadden’s madness, why he chose to open fall football practice at the earliest possible minute.
Following in the path of college basketball, which has been doing this kind of thing for years, Cody High School conducted a day-one Midnight Madness practice under the lights at Spike Vannoy Stadium.
McFadden said he wanted the Broncs to be first on the field in Wyoming for practice and last off following the state championship game in mid-November.
So at 12:01 a.m., as Sunday turned to Monday, if anyone drove past they might wonder about the action at the high school.
Not many cars did go by. Cody is an early-to-bed town and traffic lights switch to blinking at midnight.
Compounding these mysterious doings was the Bronc and Filly cross country teams also holding a Midnight Madness practice, running a 3,200-meter time trial on the track around the perimeter of the football field.
Running coach Maggie Kirkham was asked if she considered issuing flashlights and sending runners out in the streets. She said there were some jokes about head lamps, but she did not think parents would endorse a run in the dark.
The strangest thing was Kirkham and McFadden did not consult on this. Kirkham said she heard about teams elsewhere opening with Midnight Madness.
It was a pleasant night, the sky clear, with the moon bright, and temperatures in the 60s.
Senior Owen Preston was asked what was the latest he had ever started a run.
“This has to be it,” Preston said.
When Kirkham was younger and living in Michigan, summers could be scorching.
“Back in the day, we used to go on night runs,” Kirkham said. “We used to start at 11 p.m.”
College basketball’s Midnight Madness teams turn the start of practice into a big party. However, no fans came to watch the Bronc football team practice – cross country had two.
Senior Baylee Stafford was asked where were her parents to support her and she said, “My parents probably went to sleep two hours ago.”
The runners scrammed at 1:10 a.m.
Football players counted down the seconds to start practice, then spent 90 minutes drilling on passing, catching and banging tackling dummies.
Runner Charlie Beaudrie was surprised by the Madness idea.
“At first I thought, ‘We’re practicing at midnight?’” he said. “We’d never done it before.”
Once practice started, it was just like any other one, he said.
Quarterback Hunter Hays was also caught off guard.
“Then the idea really grew on me,” he said. “I liked it a lot.”
At the end of practice, McFadden gathered the team on the field for a pep talk. Then he whipped out his cell phone to call Star Valley coach McKay Young and tweak him. It was 1:35 a.m.
McFadden held up the phone so his huddled Broncs could hear the rings.
“He’s sleeping,” one player said of the coach across the state.
The call went to voicemail and McFadden left a message.
“Just letting you know we just walked off the field,” McFadden boasted of being ahead of Cody’s rival.
The teams are scheduled to play October 18 in Cody.
“See you in October,” McFadden signed of.
Then the lights were turned out and the madness ended.