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Aaron Gorres completes an agility drill during Park’s first fall practice of the year early Monday morning at Park High School. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)

Late start: Park football holds fourth-annual Midnight Madness kick off event

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Late start: Park football holds fourth-annual Midnight Madness kick off event
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

Park Athletic Director Phil Kuemmel drove into the school’s parking lot to find an unusual sight at 10:30 p.m. Sunday night.

There sat a group of students tailgating in anticipation of the start of the school’s football season.

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“I don’t think we’ve ever had [that],” Kuemmel said. “To me that was like ‘OK, kids are really starting to get excited.’”

That excitement carried into the gym as hundreds flooded Park High School Sunday night as a pep rally was held to kick off Park’s fourth annual Midnight Madness -- the official start of the Wolfpack’s football season.

The reception for the Midnight Madness event in past years has always been warm, but there was an added enthusiasm in the air just prior to Park taking the field for its first fall practice of the season, likely stemming from last year’s success.

The Wolfpack won three games last year -- including key contests over White Bear Lake and rival Woodbury.

“People are really looking at ‘hey, let’s take that next step,’” Kuemmel said. “This is a great way to get it started.”

Wolfpack coach Darin Glazier recently described the fall practices and two-a-days as “a grind.” That grind became a little easier for players to jump into with the support of fans, cheerleaders and the band behind them at the starting line.

“Kids really get that feel of importance from the community and feeling like they’re a big part of it,” Glazier said.

The first practice of the fall started at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning and was slated to last roughly an hour.

Glazier said Midnight Madness is something ninth graders look forward to becoming a part of and past Wolfpack players often come back to witness. Still, he said he had kicked around the idea of no longer doing the event in the past as the school and the football program received complaints about noise and keeping kids out too late. But those grumblings have grown quieter as each year passes.

“I think the more we make it a tradition year after year, the more the community is starting to buy into it,” Glazier said.

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