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PARKLAND (CBSMiami/AP) – The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Eagles are ready to fly again, almost six months after their assistant football coach and 16 others died in the school shooting massacre at the Parkland school.

While most of South Florida was still sleeping, they suited up and hit the field, and the memory of Aaron Feis was felt there, too.

The football team kicked off a new season with a midnight madness practice early Monday morning, the earliest they could begin their fall workouts under Florida rules.

“You represent this high school. Right now, you’re excited about everything you got. Every time you put that Douglas on, shine. Shine,” Coach Willis May Jr. told the boys in a huddle.

Associated Press reporter Tim Reynolds was there as the team gathered for a pep talk from Coach May.

He encouraged his players to give it all they’ve got, despite the void left by the loss of 17 classmates and staff members back in February.

“When somebody faces us this year, one thing I want them to know is you ain’t getting an injured Eagle. You’re not facing a bunch of injured Eagles that are just going to let you roll over them. You better bring the best you got,” May said.

Assistant Football Coach Aaron Feis was among those killed in the massacre while shielding students from the gunfire.

Now, the team uses his name as a reminder for how they want to play– Fearless, Emotion, Intensity and Sacrifice.

Reynolds reports Feis’ sister was at the practice, which ended with a water balloon fight at around 2 a.m.

It was a moment for kids to be kids, because as their coach pointed out, the season, and their time in high school, will fly by.

“Use every minute. That way when you can look back,” May said. “You look back and say ‘Hey, when I was in high school, I gave my all. I gave my best and made a good man out of me.'”

The Mayor of Parkland was also there.

“Our community is still very much in the traumatized healing process,” said Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, who sat in the bleachers with about 100 other people for the middle-of-the-night practice.

The Eagles will play Florida High School in Daytona in the Kickoff Classic on August 18th.

They’ll be featured in the ESPN Freedom Bowl in Atlanta on Sept. 1.

They’ll play locally the first week of September.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Lauren Pastrana

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