Football: New Salem-Almont opens fall practice with midnight tradition

Local Sports

New Salem-Almont is a football team built on tradition, and they don’t take that lightly. Especially when it comes to kicking off the season in a unique way.

“Most people are crawling in bed ready to sleep, but we’re out here working,” Holsteins’ senior Weston Kuhn said shortly after midnight Thursday morning.

Opening the season with a midnight practice dates back to 1986, the year the Holsteins won their only state championship. The practice returned in 2016, and with it came another state title appearance.

“All the people that graduated came out here and did the same thing, and knowing how good all those guys were, and it’s out here making us better,” Kuhn said.

This year will be a mix of old and new as the Holsteins go back to 9-man football for the first time since their last championship appearance in 2018. The challenge is a welcomed sight for a team with 17 upperclassmen.

“We just kind of adapt to what’s coming at us, and we just learn the different things that teams are bringing at us,” senior Dylan Rud explained. “So, really we just go out there every Friday night and we just compete.”

Friday night can’t get here soon enough, but head coach Steve Kleinjan says three extra preseason practices this year will make a big difference before kickoff on August 20.

“It’s just a matter of going over things in practice and making sure you’re assignment is correct, and again, like I said over and over again it’s about blocking and tackling and doing those basic, simple, fundamental things,” Kleinjan said. “If we do those things well then we’ll be okay.”

The Holsteins open their season at home against the Beach Buccaneers on August 20.

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