BUTTE – Montana high schools all officially started football preseason on Friday, but by taking the field the minute the clock stuck midnight, the Butte Bulldogs still got a jump on their competition.

“I feel like everybody is more awake. Everybody is not just getting up right now and being sluggish. Everybody’s awake, ready to go,” said Greyson Mandic, a senior defensive end and left guard.

The team held a 12 a.m. practice a couple years ago in their old stadium but this year is the first time current Bulldog players got the chance to experience the midnight madness.

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“Lot of energy inside our locker room right now, it’s going to be fun,” Mandic said.

“And one thing that it does is it gets the kids to all turn in their forms a lot earlier than they normally do, and get excited for it,” said Butte coach Arie Grey. “That first practice, I always think it, you never sleep before that first practice, and you’re like, ‘Hey, let’s have it at midnight.'”

But despite being up way, way earlier than their rivals, there were no yawns or dragging feet out on the field.

“Brings a little energy, it’s a shorter practice, which they really like, and it’s a heck of a lot cooler than it would normally be,” Grey said. “It’s kind of neat because it’s kind of eerie, at night up here, and it’s a lot darker uptown than it is downtown.”

With the season fast approaching, the Bulldogs had no time to waste and jumped straight into drills under the moonlight for 90 minutes.

“We have a lot of players that are returning this year that have played varsity, so we’ll have a lot of experience this year,” said Bo Mortensen, a senior running back and linebacker.

“The crazy thing is, 14 days from now, we will be done with our first game,” Grey said.

The Bulldogs will open their season on Aug. 24 against Kalispell Flathead in Bigfork.

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