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Rams open at midnight

CREEKSVILLE – Does lightning strike twice?

That is the question Northampton County High School – East third-year skipper H.B. Harris is asking himself.

The Rams started practice last year at the first legal moment – 12:01 a.m. on August 1 – and proceeded to have their best season in recent memory.

Monday morning about the same time the Rams began the 2005 gridiron campaign with the same high hopes.

&uot;We’re going to stick with what works,&uot; Harris said. &uot;This is something different and it sends a clear message not only to our players, but to the fans and the community that we’re dedicated to this.&uot;

Harris said he wasn’t ready to declare the Rams the best team in the Tar-Roanoke Conference, although they did claim the league crown a year ago.

&uot;We’re not out of the woods yet,&uot; he said. &uot;We had an extremely successful season, but we have to stay humble and stay realistic.

&uot;Until we prove otherwise, then we have to believe last year was an aberration,&uot; the coach continued. &uot;We still have to have a head start. We are not so good that we can start out even with everyone else. We need to take advantage of every opportunity.&uot;

Harris joked about almost being &uot;run out of the county&uot; after his first year, but being &uot;kings and queens&uot; after a successful 2004 year.

&uot;This year we had a lot more folks come out and didn’t have to do so much recruiting,&uot; he said.

The 2005 season started with nearly 25 players on the field as the Rams and Harris began their quest to defend the conference title.

Offensive Coordinator Donald Gibbs and Defensive Coordinator Mark Long were the vocal leaders for the practice.

&uot;If a kid is out here working at midnight, he wants it,&uot; Long said. &uot;It shows desire. They could be anywhere and doing anything, but they are here improving themselves as football players and people.&uot;

Gibbs said he was a part of midnight practice at most every school he had coached at and he enjoyed the workouts.

&uot;Personally, I’ve always done it,&uot; Gibbs said. &uot;It gives the kids a chance to come out and work when it’s a little cooler outside.

&uot;Last year this brought us together early as a team and also brought the community and parents in with us,&uot; Gibbs said. &uot;If you look around this year, there are parents out there in the cars watching. It’s good for the program.&uot;

Harris said he expects 45-50 students out and plans to have a junior varsity team for at least the conference portion of the schedule.