During a brief break in the Alice Coyotes’ first practice Monday morning — just before 1 a.m. to be exact — quarterback Devyn Orta paused for a moment and took it all in.

Orta began his high school career in the football-crazed community of Sinton and moved to Alice before his junior season. He remembers the Sinton community's loyalty to its football program. Still, Alice fans are far more enthusiastic, he said.

“These fans are amazing out here in Alice,” Orta said. “I didn’t expect this honestly. I come from Sinton, but these fans here are really amazing.”

Bright portable lights lit up the football fields. A live DJ blasted music in the background and fans, most sitting back in lawn chairs, lined the Alice High School practice fields for the Coyotes’ first practice of the new season. Like the program did last season, the varsity and junior varsity teams stepped onto the field at midnight Monday for Midnight Madness.

Right at 12 a.m., police sirens and lights blared as the teams lined up and walked onto the practice field through a “human tunnel” of fans and supporters. Once on the field, the teams broke up into positions and went through a speedy and up-tempo practice. Offensive players were wearing white jerseys, while defense wore black.

Alice coach Kyle Atwood, who began Midnight Madness practices here last season, was impressed with his team’s approach to its first practice. He was also overwhelmed by the community support shown in the wee hours of the morning.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “The first day of practice is always going to be exciting and the energy is always going to be high, but it’s not going to be as high as it is here right now anywhere else in the state of Texas, because of the fanbase, the cheerleaders and just everybody who supports Coyote football and what it stands for and protecting the tradition of Coyote football.”

Alice senior defensive back Sean Chapa agreed.

“It feels amazing,” Chapa said of the turnout for the team’s first practice. “We waited for a good while. We had spring football, so we had to wait a little longer than most teams, but now that we’re here it feels great.”

Alice began its preseason workouts a week later than most other schools because of spring football drills in May. Atwood said the wait was worth. Moreover, he said the program benefitted from the extra week, especially since Alice’s freshmen were able to start practice last week.

“Initially, I thought, ‘Man, this is going to be difficult starting a week later,’ but it ended up being really, really good,” Atwood said. “Our new coaches had the opportunity to go through freshman two-a-days for five days and see what our practice scripts are like and what our philosophies are and those sort of things.”

Alice will resume a regular morning practice schedule Tuesday.