Surprisingly, there were few bloodshot eyes and only a couple of yawns at Western's football practice Thursday.
The Warriors, making a fresh start with a new head coach, were on the field for an under-the-lights and out-of-the-sun practice at 5 a.m.
Yes, 5 a.m. As in morning -- very early morning.
"It really wasn't that hard to get up," said senior tight end/linebacker Olivier Recarte, who awoke at 3:40 a.m. "I just set the alarm and got up. When Coach first mentioned the practice times, I was buggin', but it's great to be out of the heat and practicing when it's still cool out."
Thursday was the first day of practice for Nevada high school football teams. Noncontact practices are permitted now. On Monday, teams can put on pads and begin actual contact practices, in which players can block and tackle.
Most teams will play their first games Aug. 29.
"We wanted to get out of the heat and out of the sun," first-year head coach John Isola said. "We play under the lights, so let's practice under the lights."
Temperatures during Western's practice were in the low to mid 80s. The sun finally peeked out at 6:30 a.m. It's a far cry from the near 110-degree temperatures most teams experienced while practicing during the late afternoon.
"We didn't have to deal with the heat. It felt good," junior quarterback Devin Wiedemann said. He was so excited for the start of the season, he woke up from a nap at 10 p.m. Wednesday and couldn't fall back asleep before practice.
The morning practice was only the beginning for Western, which returned to the field at 7 p.m. for the back half of two-a-days. For the first several days, the Warriors will be on the field from 5 to 7 a.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. The players are encouraged to get plenty of rest in between.
"I'm taking a shower and going to bed," Recarte said just after the morning session.
Isola said: "If they have energy, they can go harder. We'll get more out of them. If they're out in the sun, it drains the energy. It's just a matter of getting here. We had a good turnout. For these kids to get here, some by 4:30 a.m., I applaud them."
Western returns only one starter on offense and two on defense from a team that finished 8-3, including a 5-1 mark in the Southwest Division.
"It's a fresh start for all of us," Isola said. "These are good kids, and we feel like we have the makings of a good team."
Western wasn't the only team with an early practice Thursday. Chaparral had its own version of "Midnight Madness," starting at 12:01 a.m.
"It went excellent," Chaparral coach Fernando Carmona said. "The kids were really excited about it."
The Cowboys practiced until 3 a.m., then had a two-hour meeting, followed by a two-mile run. The school's cheerleaders made breakfast for the team. Another practice session, from 7 to 10 a.m., ended the day.
"The kids are beat. I'm beat," Carmona said. "It was a long night, but we got a lot accomplished. It's a new tradition we're starting."
The Cowboys have more traditional 7-10 a.m. and 7-9 p.m. sessions planned for today.
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5230.