RICHBURG -- Traditions seldom die at Lewisville High School.
The Lions have a long history of winning, so capturing the last three Region 3-A championships caught few people off guard.
Another standing tradition is the annual team camp, when players report for the first week of practice and live in the school's gym for nearly a week.
The Lions hope to continue their winning ways, but made a change in camp this year. They did not go out at midnight because practice officially began last Friday.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Herald
But after reporting Sunday night, sitting though a parents meeting and unpacking everything allowable, they went out for the first practice at 9 a.m.
"I've been through this before and it won't be tough making it through the week," said Matt Small, a junior offensive lineman. "A lot of guys bring so much stuff it's hard to believe. Luke Hunter brought a bed, a TV, a play station and several coolers packed with drinks and snacks."
That's how coach Floyd Drum wants it. The camp brings the players closer together, and he wants his team to be one, big happy family.
Family is important to Drum, and his is very involved with the program. His wife, Sandra, stocked the store room next to Drum's office with supplies for the week.
There are hot dog buns, chips, cookies, pickles, pickle relish, ketchup, boxes of cereal, plates, napkins, plastic spoons and forks. Inside the freezer in Drum's office are cartons of milk, fruit cups, meat.
She raises money for the team and shops for bargains without short-changing the team.
Her replacement is in training, 7-year-old granddaughter Gracie, who was on hand Sunday night.
"Did you see 'Remember the Titans?'" Sandra Drum said of the movie. "The little girl in the movie, the coach's daughter, that's Gracie.''
Drum went over the rules with the parents and announced the school was implementing a drug-testing program.
"Not just for football, but for every sport," he said. "This is not a county policy. It's a Lewisville policy. We will randomly draw names and test 10 percent of our players. With the way things are these days, we felt it was something we had to do."
After the parents left, the players lined up to get weighed, signed in and issued equipment. The hardest part was finding the right size helmet, but all was worked out.
The players went out at 9 p.m. and worked on offense under the watchful eyes of first-year coordinator Kenny Atkerson. At 11, they left the field to the smell the hot dogs grilling outside the weight room.
After a shower and team meeting with Drum and his staff, the players were sent outside at midnight to eat.
"We like to take care of our kids best we can," Drum said. "We had relish for the dogs tonight. Tomorrow, we'll have chili, too."
Wednesday night, the parents will hold a covered-dish supper.
The first practice went well. The players ran through non-contact drills smoothly and drew praise from their position coaches.
They'll have to get even better, Drum told them. Two teams in the region played in Class A's two state championship games last season, with Chesterfield winning and Lewisville's rival, Great Falls, losing.
Drum pointed out that Buford is moving back down to Class A this season and is loaded with seniors after playing the last two years in Class AA.
The Lions took a big hit at graduation last spring, but have good talent back as a solid foundation for the young players.
The Johnson twins, seniors Isaiah and Elijah, are two of the region's top skill players. The Lions will count heavily on lineman Small, Hakeem Moore and defensive back Jeremy Green.
"I was skeptical about this season because we lost so many players," Moore said. "But after our first practice, I saw we have some good young players this year. It will be up to us returning players to get them ready."
That includes leading by example.
After downing his dogs, Elijah Johnson headed inside and started lifting weights using a program former Lions standout Sheldon Brown, a Philadelphia Eagles defensive back, taught him.
"Ever heard of getting run out of the weight room?" he asked, sweat pouring as he fished for two cartons of milk. "I wanted to keep going. Gotta work hard to stay on top."
And gotta sleep.
It was nearing 1:30 a.m. and the players were getting up at 6 for cereal and sausage biscuits before practicing at 8. It had been the first of many long days to come.
• Lewisville's 2008 schedule • 2C