Zephyrhills Free Press

Saturday Night Lights

Bulldogs return to the gridiron for their special practice

The sound of full contact football drills filled the air at Tom Fisher Field at Bulldog Stadium Saturday night as the Zephyrhills Bulldogs hosted its annual open to the public Saturday Night Lights practice.

It was time to hit and it couldn’t have come soon enough as about 100 fans found their spot in the bleachers or along the fence reading to see a glimpse of the 2021 Bulldogs.

“Normally practice is always closed to the public,” said Coach Nick Carroll, who led his Bulldogs to the third round of the state playoffs last season. “When I got to Zephyrhills, I thought it would be something unique and cool to do just like the NFL teams do. They open up the practice to the public and get the fans out there, so all of our families get to come out. It’s the first day of hitting and we get to do it under the lights. What better atmosphere for hitting and contact drills.”

For the players, it’s nice to see the community rally around the football team.

“This is pretty fun seeing the town come out and watch us,” said junior Maddox Rivera. “I think it’s cool for them, but it is fun for us. There’s no feeling like getting to hit. I love to play tackle football and to get back at it is fun.”

Following a summer of seven-on-seven competition for the skill players, it was time to hit or be hit.

“It’s time to get hit and hit my teammates,” said senior running back Jaylin Thomas. “This is a great way to start contact. You have to get used to hitting. It gets tiring. I’m ready for the season.”

This is the first step to a return the playoffs and after last year’s 32-0 season-ending loss to Orlando Jones

“We want to get back to the third round as fast as we can,” Thomas said. “We want to redeem ourselves. We lost badly to Jones, but it was our first time to the third round of the playoffs, so we had to learn. When you learn, you get better.”

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