Christopher football kicks off padded practice with Midnight Madness

Members of the offensive line get set before the start of an 11-on-11 drill during Midnight Madness last Friday.

Coach Tim Pierleoni sat alone in his office above the boys locker room.
Within his closed door, he shuffled through some papers making sure his practice plan was ready to go for his coaches.
The clock ticked north of 11 p.m. and Pierleoni was tired but excited for the coming practice.
Outside, cars, pick ups and SUVs sat on the basketball courts between the softball diamond and the football stadium.
Players congregated together—some wearing their practice jerseys, some in street clothes—their music playing from stereos.
But inside the lockeroom up in the coach’s office, all was quiet.
A short hour later, the gym would be abuzz with the excitement of players putting on their gear for the first padded practice of 2017.
“Tonight is a fun night just because it’s also a team bonding event where we get to hang out with all of our friends and get that atmosphere,” said returning senior Ethan Crawford. “At the same time we’re getting all excited because this is the first night we get pads and the first night we get to hit.”
Crawford said for all of the fun parts of the night, it is still about practice and he said the team knows it needs to flip the switch past the skits and the hanging out and get serious about preparing for the up coming season, which kicks off on Aug. 25.
Even Pierleoni reiterated that while the night is fun and there is a certain casualness to it, there are still teachable moments.
His favorite skit of the night was a group that brought up the coaches from the football and cheer squads for a friendly roast. But Coach P noted the kids didn’t take it too far and still opted to show a great deal of respect.
“It wasn’t as much of a roast as I thought. There were a lot of positive things,” Pierleoni said. “That’s part of growing up. That’s part of what we do here. They have to make a decision: It’s got to be appropriate, the new principal is here, we’ve got to make good decisions here. Part of what we do and what I try to do is teach these boys how to make good, responsible choices.”
In that moment before practice, however, the players and coaching staff could take a breath.
Midnight Madness has fast become a favorite tradition at Christopher from simple beginnings of giving a young team as much practice as possible to a right of passage.
“They get better every year. They’re different. It’s all good. It’s neat it started as a way to give the kids a leg up and now it has a mind of its own,” Pierleoni said.
Midnight Madness kicks off the first moment that teams are allowed to practice after a 10-day break mandated by the Central Coast Section.
Christopher prides itself as being the first in the section to begin practice. Only because other sections hold a dead period earlier than CCS, the Cougars are not the first in the state to hold padded practices.
The night began with a team dinner, followed by athletic contracts and leading to skits with football players teaming up with cheerleaders.
Finally, players received their official gold practice jerseys.
This year is a little different as the junior varsity team was called up to practice with the varsity squad to help with continuity between the two levels.
“There’s always a need sometimes, anytime during the year that you need a JV guy to come up,” Pierleoni said. “Having those practices together makes it easier for him in that transition and for everyone else if they’ve practiced together.”