COVENTRY: A majority of high school football teams lined up for their first two-a-day practice session of the 2012 season Monday morning per OHSAA rules.

Coventry got a jump on the competition with a “midnight practice.”

Comets coach Jerami Hodgkinson and his staff directed a spirited 45-minute practice that included 72 players and between 250 to 300 spectators who were admitted for free at Coventry Memorial Stadium.

“We tell our guys that enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm,” Hodgkinson said. “That is what we are trying to promote. We want the kids to have a ‘Win the Day’ attitude, and we won the day, getting a practice in at midnight. We are ready to go.”

The event started at 11 p.m. Sunday with a football rally, a levy rally and a 50-50 sale to raise money for the Coventry school system.

“Most of our boys were here about 9:30,” said Hodgkinson, 32. “They were excited. They got out there and got it done. We wanted the kids to have fun. This shows our dedication to be out here at midnight.”

Country and rap music filled the air in the stadium over speakers set up outside the Comets locker room before the team took the field.

The tone changed once the team took to the field in helmets, T-shirts and shorts.

Rock music blasted in the wee hours of the morning with several Rage Against the Machine songs getting the team pumped up, though there was no tackling.

“It was a great atmosphere,” Hodgkinson said. “We have good support. There are a lot of things going on in our community. We have a [combined 5.99-mill] levy [and bond issue] coming up on the Aug. 7 ballot. We had some band supporters here and cheerleaders. I was very pleased with the support from the community.”

Senior Tyler Butler, 17, was one of the first players to run out of the locker room as the Comets received a nice ovation.

“It was a great time,” said Butler, a 6-foot-6, 324-pound offensive tackle and defensive tackle. “I am looking forward to this year. It is my senior year. We were 5-5 last year. We are looking to make the playoffs this year. We are out here working hard every day and pushing ourselves to the limit. We are trying to make this a better program and make people know that Coventry is a good football team.”

The players went through drills and then a brief scrimmage during the practice’s final minutes.

Senior Dillon Headrick, 18, took part in the action from his running back and linebacker positions.

“Everybody worked hard and played smooth,” said Headrick, who is 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds. “Everything was flowing. We were all hyped and ready to play. Everybody is ready for the season.”

Headrick joked that the midnight practice violated Hodgkinson’s curfew that calls for his players to not be out past 10:30 p.m.

Hodgkinson made an exception to get his players all together on the field under the lights as the season draws closer.

“My father [Bruce] did this when I was in high school [at Centerburg],” Hodgkinson said. “It was something we wanted to bring here. I got to do it as a sophomore and I just remember how fun it was for the kids and the community to all get together on a Sunday night heading into Monday morning.”

The Comets returned to the field Monday for a practice from noon to 2:30 p.m.

“I was psyched and ready to go for the midnight practice,” Butler said. “I think this was awesome. We actually had a pretty good turnout for a Sunday night. I am just happy to be out here with my guys. I have been playing with [Headrick] since I started playing football in seventh grade. It is awesome to be on the field with my brothers.”

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.