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      KHQA Barnstorm Tour: HIGHLAND COUGARS



      This is a bit of a high school football holiday in the Show Me State....

      One rung in to the sound of popping pads.

      Today was the first day Missouri teams could conduct full contact workouts...and in some communities, that carried more excitement then others...

      Ross Green was on hand last night as one area squad sought to reverse its fortunes...right at the stroke of the Witching Hour.

      {<}12:01 AM on Thursday marked the beginning of the first day of full contact practice in Missouri. And the Highland Cougars didn't waste a single minute.

      "This is something I experienced when I was a young coach at Orrick High School, and it became a community event. We don't have it to that level yet but our kids are excited, and we tell them we're going to be the first ones to get our licks in,"

      Kenny Grubb decided to shake up tradition this year with a midnight practice. While players and coaches from other schools could only dream about the day they had been waiting for, this team was under the lights - and loving it.

      "It was amazing, just outstanding. I haven't had a feeling like this before, to come out here at midnight ready to hit. Everybody's excited and pumped, its a feeling I can't even explain,"

      "Its always great to get a new tradition started. Any chance to get some cracks at each other, its always great,"

      And good luck finding a player who would have rather been home sleeping.

      "Coach is always preaching intensity, so its always good to get out there and be intense with everybody. That's just what he asks of us and that's what we give him,"

      It wasn't hard for anyone to get pumped up, especially since the Oklahoma drill was first on Coach Grubb's agenda.

      "I love it - players are always coming hard and hitting people as hard as they can, and that's what we're here to do,"

      If this one hour of practice was any indication of what the Cougars will bring to the table in 2012, expect a much different result than their one-win season a year ago. Chris Sparks and Derick Smith will no doubt make the highlight reel every week, and that's something the underclassmen can follow.

      "One of the things that happening here right now is our seniors are kind of taking the freshmen under their wings, coaching them in drills when they're in the back of the line. I hear that stuff and our players are really confident with our system right now, and they're really taking on the role of teacher with that as well,"

      It seems this new tradition has brought the team together - and what it does for them down the road could be huge.

      "We're trying to set a standard and build a foundation right now. We're trying to make this program better than what its been,"

      "Our outlook is that we want to get better, and obviously we want that to translate into wins and losses. But that stuff takes care of itself if you work hard,"