NASHVILLE — A year ago it was a surprise to the team.
This year, Franklin Road Academy’s football team looked forward to being one of the first teams in the Nashville area to take the field in full pads.
Donelson Christian Academy, FRA and Wayne County practiced in full pads beginning at midnight Monday morning — the first day the TSSAA allows it.
“It’s always fun to practice at midnight,” said FRA senior Lance Wilhoite, an Oregon commitment. “This is something we implemented last year.
“After last year, everybody talked about it because it was surprise — only the parents knew about it.”
The conditions were ideal for teams early Monday morning, practicing in temperatures in the low 70s instead of battling intense humid weather.
“If you can knock out some weather like this, and get a good spirited practice to kick off the season, it’s a good start,” FRA coach Bill Whittemore said.
FRA went 5-7 this past season, finishing third in Division II-AA Middle Region.
“This was a way for us to get more hype, and get the energy going for the season,” FRA junior Will Wheeler said. “We’re the only ones out right now. It’s the first day of eligibility and we are out here hitting it hard.
FRA did work in shells late Sunday, with the members of the program donning the rest of the pads at midnight.
“Maybe it’s stupid, but we enjoy it,” Whittemore said. “For what we do, this is probably for sure the best thing we could do — teaching our kids on the board, walk through and on the field — giving them a bunch of ways they can implement it.”