Midnight Madness? Freeman Football Pushing The Limit - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Midnight Madness? Freeman Football Pushing The Limit

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ROCKFORD, Wash. -- Football practices at 12:01 am.  That's nothing new.  Rogers High School has been doing it for years, on the eve of the first official day of fall practice.  But a midnight weightlifting session, under the lights on a football field?  Now that's a whole new ballgame.

"You know what, it's unique," says Jim Wood, entering his ninth season as head football coach at Freeman High School.  "It makes athletes so much better.  I've never seen anything quite like this."

"We try to make it at midnight, do something crazy," says Drew Buchkoski of APX Strength in Spokane, the muscle behind this fly-by-night operation.

Raul Vijil is also part of the APX staff, pushing these teenagers to the limit.

"No other teams are doing it," says Vijil, a former wide receiver for Eastern Washington University and the Spokane Shock. "What separates them from other teams in their league is something like this."

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Freeman, a small 1A school on the outskirts of Spokane Valley, went just 3-7 during the 2009 season.  That's when the Scotties contracted APX Strength to oversee their strength and conditioning program.  The team responded with a 5-5 record that season, and has gone a combined 16-5 (9-2 in 2011, 7-3 in 2012) over the past two seasons.

"I've seen it the last three years," says Wood, whose team opens the season next month against Colville.  "This is our fourth year now.  We've gradually improved and improved.  These guys put everything they could into it, right now I think they're ready."

"We want Freeman to have success," says Vijil.  "We're here motivating, coaching, yelling, doing whatever we can.  That's why my voice is a little hoarse right now."

On this particular night, the APX staff has lost its voice.  Players are losing their lunch.  Have these guys lost their marbles, too?

Senior-to-be Kian Gentman doesn't think so.

"The mental toughness we get out here is unmatched," says Gentman, a two-way player at linebacker and wide receiver.  "We got together and decided we wanted to do this.  We got 17 returning starters.  Nothing's going to stand in our way."



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