BY BRANDON SPECK
OXFORD – Football practice doesn’t typically start with pillow fights, but at least one preceded Oxford’s first practice of 2013.
The Chargers took full advantage of the first official day of fall work, hitting the practice field at 12:01 a.m. Monday. It was a manly pillow fight.
Oxford coach Johnny Hill said this idea had been tossed around, but this was the first attempt. Hill smiled when asked how his players would react to the odd practice time.
“Don’t know. Don’t really care,” Hill joked before the practice began. “Their butts are here and we’re gonna put them to work. I think they’ll be excited about it, even though it’s a little different.”
It was different, but the excitement was indeed there. There was plenty of player-to-player motivation during opening sprints.
Weather may have been a little cooler in the wee hours, but it was plenty muggy for 1,600 yards worth of sprints. The Chargers went 90 minutes and slept in the weight room.
Lights went out at 2 a.m. and everyone had to be up at 6 a.m. to prepare for team pictures.
“I looked at the sheet. I said, ‘12?’ They must have meant p.m.,” senior linebacker Ethan Holmes said. “We’re getting ahead of the competition obviously. We’re having fun doing it. It’s good team bonding for sure.”
Holmes tried to build a protective wall around his sleeping bag, an admittedly lower-tech method of slumber compared to the air mattresses laying in the entrance, in the walkway, under – and on top of – the machines.
The Chargers advanced to the Nationals of the National Select 7-on-7 and are drawing a lot of preseason praise as a team to watch in Class 5A. A lot of experience is returning, including a talented linebacker corp and a full secondary.
Senior left tackle Luke Leary is one of those returning attributes. He slept on an air mattress atop a workout machine.
“It’s good team bonding,” Leary said. “We’re all kind of messing around with each other, letting the air out. I figure if get off the ground a few feet, maybe people laying down won’t mess with me as much.”