APA holds Midnight Madness, prepares for 11-man contests
Arendell Parrott is scheduled to play two 11-man games this season after participating in one for the first time since 1989 last year. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
Arendell Parrott Academy had its first full-contact practice under the lights Monday night.
The Patriots held their annual Midnight Madness, preparing for a season with several differences from previous years. APA football coach Matt Beaman said the tradition started with Dr. Bert Bright, but he put a bit of a twist on the protocol.
“He did it the first official practice, and then when I took over as head coach (in 2013), we switched and did our Midnight Madness the first night of hitting,” Beaman said. “We do a scrimmage under the lights, divide the team up as (evenly) as we can and do a full-out scrimmage.”
This season, the Patriots played an 11-man Red-Blue scrimmage in preparation for their first two games of 2019. APA hosts Rocky Mount Prep on Aug. 23, followed by a trip to Williamston Bear Grass Charter a week later.
APA defeated the Bears 25-8 last season in the team’s first 11-man game since 1989, and the Patriots will play in a jamboree Friday in Raleigh with North Raleigh Christian, Wake Christian and a homeschool team to prepare for a different format than the usual 8-man contests.
“We’ve prepared for 11-man games from the word ‘go,’” Beaman said. “Next week, we’ll put in our 8-man offense, then we’ll go back to 11-man for two weeks, open up against Cary (Christian) and go from there.”
On the field, players were ready to take practice to another level. Weaver Sumrell said Monday night felt like the official start of the season.
“I’m glad to be back out here and it feels good being able to compete during Midnight Madness,” Sumrell said. “I’m excited about this season and ready to go.”
Noah Miller shared similar sentiments, even as he takes on an expanded role.
“Last year we had more senior linemen, so it’s a tougher adjustment but one we’re getting better with,” Miller said. “It feels good to play games with contact again, and I’m ready for the season to start.”