Ball-carriers like to run to daylight.
And Mount Tahoma High School football players live to run at midnight.
That is the Thunderbirds’ annual rite under coach Kevin Hanis at the outset of fall camp – start the season at 12:01 a.m. in the stadium as part of the school’s "midnight madness" first practice.
Except the festivities were abruptly interrupted – and ultimately cancelled – late Tuesday when all power went out around the high school at 8:30 p.m. Thus, midnight madness became late-night sadness.
"I was kind of disappointed," senior defensive lineman Nehemiah Barr said. "I like it. It is a bonding time for the team."
So instead, the Thunderbirds held their first fall-camp workout at the same time most schools did Wednesday – in the mid-afternoon.
Getting an early start has been a staple of Hanis’ football teams, all the way back to the early 1990s when he coached at Stadium High School.
"It was fun – and different," Hanis said.
Now a few other schools around the state have adopted that same time slot. Rogers High in Spokane stayed up late for practice. So did Mount Vernon and Wahkiakum. And Freeman held a weight-lifting session for its players under the dark, night skies at its home field.
When Hanis was hired at Mount Tahoma in 2007, not only did the Thunderbirds hold a midnight practice, they had an overnight sleepover inside the stadium.
Since then, it has just been a two-hour practice until 2 a.m., and then the players go home to sleep, then prepare for a practice later in the day.
On Tuesday night, the scheduled parents’ meeting at the school went as planned. As soon as it concluded, Hanis met up with his coaching staff in the office before players were set to arrive.
"Last night there was a full moon," Hanis said. "It was like the football gods were telling me, 'No practice tonight.' I got the hint."
In fact, right before a car wreck wiped out a nearby power pole, costing 2,500 homes in the area, as well as Mount Tahoma, all electricity, Hanis joked with his staff that Tuesday would be the night that the stadium light breaker box would be locked, and practice would have to be suspended.
Fifteen minutes later, the football office went dark. Hanis ran outside the school and looked across the street at a church. Its lit-up cross was off.
Hanis immediately drove home to Puyallup to send out a mass email to his players, cancelling practice. Assistant coaches Clarence Wright, Darryl Franks and Isaiah Liufau remained on-site to tell unsuspecting players to return home.
"I live on 60th and Pacific Avenue, and I was on my way here," Barr said. "I got the email on my phone.
"It was tough. At night, you are up. Us teens, our attention span at that time is on point."
Half the team practiced Wednesday afternoon. Six of them are key sophomores who were part of a rebuilding squad that endured a winless season in the Narrows 3A League last season.
None of them quit the team.
"It shows we don’t want to give up on this program," said Adrian Allen, one of the sophomores who is a co-starter at quarterback. "The six of us feel we can make a difference."