BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- When the clock struck one minute past midnight, the Heritage Mountaineers went into football mode--in full pads.
"Fire off! Let's go! Drive your feet!" one coach yelled.
Prep football teams weren't allowed to practice in full pads until Monday, August 1.
The Mountaineers made the decision not to wait a second longer. So, just after midnight, under the stadium lights, the Mountaineers suited up and went to work, becoming the first team in the state to don full pads for the 2011 season.
"The adrenaline is flowing. Everybody is excited to get back after it and hit each other," head coach Brint Russell said. "You can tell it because you get those goosebumps and that feeling in the pit of your stomach."
"There is nothing like it. It's so exciting," Heritage lineman Luke Eldridge said. "When you come out here and see those lights, your heart starts pounding and you get butterflies."
Heritage hopes this is the year they climb the mountain and reach the postseason. The Mountaineers have made the playoffs since 1999.
"Our goal is to win them all, but we want to make the playoffs. It's our third year here and this is the year we make the playoffs," Russell said.
"We want to start a tradition. We want to make the playoffs. First round, second round, it doesn't matter. We want to do something that Heritage hasn't done in a while."
Heritage opens up the season August 19 at Jefferson County.