At 11:59 p.m. Sunday night, the only sound that could be heard at Bret Harte High School’s Dorroh Field was the buzz of the stadium lights and a few crickets in the distance. At 11:59 p.m. it was still summertime and the living was easy.
By 12:01 a.m., that all changed.
The silence was replaced by the thunderous sound of the Dropkick Murphys song “The Boys are Back” as it blasted through the stadium loudspeaker. As the music echoed throughout the empty stadium, a mixture of white and purple jerseys made their way down from the locker room to the football field.
Once the clock struck midnight, football season was officially underway.
For the second year in a row, the Bret Harte High School football team began the season as early as section rules allow. For head coach Casey Kester, who is entering his fifth year leading the Bullfrogs, the enjoyment from last year was the main reason to continue the midnight tradition.
“The players enjoyed it last year,” Kester said. “They thought it was a good team experience because it was something that was different and it seems to be going the same way this year. The players were really energetic and so were the coaches.”
Monday marked the end of the “dead period,” which began July 8. Teams can now practice, but will not be able to have full contact until Aug. 5. Knowing that there will be no hitting, Kester wanted Monday’s practice to be about getting excited for the season and begin reintroducing the playbook to his players.
“Tonight, we introduced just minimal offense and defense,” Kester said. “It’s a heavy-duty dose of mental preparation this week and we’ll get into pads next week and start some contact.”
Before the practice began, the players were thrown a barbecue and parents came for a program-wide meeting. After dinner, the players were given all their equipment and were assigned lockers, so that once midnight hit, they’d be ready to roll.
Even though the football season is officially back, that doesn’t mean the Bullfrogs have stopped thinking about funding their program. There are still a number of fundraisers that are in the works, which will help go toward new helmets, pads, T-shirts, tape, tackling bags, wrist bands, uniforms, water jugs and every other little item that a team needs.
Bret Harte has once again partnered up with the San Francisco 49ers and is selling tickets to the 49ers’ preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys Aug. 10 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. A portion of each ticket sold will be donated back to the Bret Harte program. Bullfrog players are also selling discount cards, which include discounts for local businesses. Information for all fundraising can be found at bullfrogfootball.com.
Monday night, Kester wasn’t thinking about fundraising, the 49ers or anything other than his team and its Aug. 23 preseason game against Orestimba. Football is back, and Kester couldn’t ask for anything more.
“My countdown has been on since January,” Kester said. “Now we are close enough to smell and taste it. We’ve got helmets on and the kids are wearing jerseys. Football is here and it’s time to go. That’s a great thing.”