THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) — High school football teams in the state of Georgia were able to practice with pads on for the first time on Monday, July 31. Like every year, Thomas County Central couldn't wait to get going. That's why they hit the field when the clock struck midnight, and the community was right alongside them to cheer them on.
"Last year I didn't know what I was getting in to," laughed Thomas County Central head football coach Justin Rogers. "I turned the corner and it was packed out, folks everywhere."
"I've been coming to all the Midnight Madness' since I can remember," said senior Kristopher Wilhelm. "It's really fun being a part of it. It makes you appreciate it that much more even though you're not a kid anymore, coming from your kid's heart."
A three decade long-plus tradition, Midnight Madness marks the first time high school football teams in the state of Georgia can practice with pads on. For the Yellow Jackets and for the fans, it's serious business.
"I'm out here every year, to watch the Yellow Jackets. This is our tradition. Every year."
Andrew Wyche has never missed a Midnight Madness.
"It's a tradition out here," he said. "Every community comes out and we support the Yellow Jackets, it's a tradition thing for us."
It's fans like him that make the night what it is.
"It just shows you how much these people love you and support you," said Wilhelm. "You really feel the love and it just makes you drive that much more in practice when they're over there screaming."
"When you know you have fans like that who are going to be with you and support you and show up and support the kids, all the hours you put in, all the work you put in, man it's easy," said Rogers. "That's what makes south Georgia awesome for football."
An awesome tradition, that everyone hopes will lead to an awesome fall. The Jackets open the regular season August 18th at Cairo.