LUMBERTON — High school football season officially kicks off this weekend, with Robeson County teams taking the field for their first official practices.
Two of the county’s teams will ring in the new season at midnight under the lights on Friday night.
The Lumberton High School football team will host its annual Midnight Madness event from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m to showcase the team, giving the community a sneak peek at what to expect this season.
The free event at Alton G. Brooks stadium will feature varsity and junior varsity teams, with the cheerleading squad offering support throughout the night. The concession stand will also be open, as well as the Pirate store, giving fans an opportunity to grab some gear before the the 2015 season begins.
“It can be anywhere from 200 to 500 people,” said Mackie Register, Lumberton’s athletics director. “It’s a good chance for fans to come check us out and get fired up for the season.”
For Mike Setzer, the event is an opportunity for the team to get acquainted with playing in front of an audience before the start of the regular season.
“It’s big for our kids as we prepare for jamborees and the season,” said Setzer, Lumberton’s coach. “It gives the community an opportunity to see our guys.”
Fairmont High School is hosting a similar event on Friday night.
The Golden Tornadoes will have a normal practice, but without pads, from 6 p.m. to 9, after which the team will be fed and parents will have a chance to take care of some paperwork.
At midnight, the team will return to the field for a short practice. The booster club will also be present. The team will reconvene on Monday for a normal practice.
“It’s something for the community to enjoy,” said Mark Heil, who is in his first season as Fairmont’s coach. “Mainly, we really want the parents to come out and take care of some things before the season starts. It’s a fun thing, but we also need to use the time to get some stuff done.”
Other teams around the county will go with a more traditional route, waiting until Saturday morning to take the field for their first practices.
Purnell Swett, Red Springs and South Robeson will start practice at 8 a.m., with St. Pauls scheduled to take the field for a 9 a.m. start.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.