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Gridley Herald

Live Oak Football Locks In

Jun 06, 2024 04:28PM ● By Steven Bryla, photos by Steven Bryla

Live Oak football players work out as Lions’ strength and conditioning coach T.J. Newsom looks on during the midnight workout session on Saturday, June 1.


LIVE OAK, CA (MPG) - The Live Oak Lions football team grinded out an all-night affair for bonding that is going to put them above their competition in the 2024 football season.

A couple of hours after the 2024 class graduation in the football stadium, the Live Oak football team began its focus on the upcoming football season that begins in the final weekend of August.


Live Oak football players play cornhole during their first ever lock-in night for the Lions on Saturday, June 1.


The Lions varsity football team held a lock-in night for the first time in program history in hopes of building camaraderie and bonding together as a unit.

Live Oak players prepared their sleeping arrangements in the campus gym with sleeping bags, air mattresses, televisions, gaming consoles and coolers/tables for snacks.

The Lions made their way over to the weight room shortly before midnight on Saturday, June 1, where they had a high-intensity team workout for a little over an hour and 15 minutes. Following the workout, the Live Oak players filtered back into the gym for the remaining hours of the morning where they would lock themselves inside the gymnasium and bond over multiple activities that included pick-up basketball games, video games, cornhole matches, chatting with one another and simply playing catch with a football.

Lions head coach Robert Tilton told the Herald that he saw an original idea of building camaraderie through shared misery through the Netflix documentary on the University of Florida that came out in 2023. 

Tilton added that he isn’t a fan of continuous misery with no reward because in many cases people will get tired of it and quit.

“If I’m able to give both ends of the spectrum between shared misery and fun together, then we have the means of building that complete camaraderie between everyone,” Tilton said. 

Live Oak strength and conditioning coach T.J. Newsom, who was the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach for Yuba College in 2023, had the Lions working hard during the workout and he made sure they were loud and proud about it.

The energy was felt throughout the weightroom between the switching of stations. Following the weight training session, it was time for the fun part as the Live Oak players would be inside the gym for the next six-plus hours of having fun.

As mentioned in the different options mentioned earlier, there were plenty of smiles, bonding and competitive fun-trash talk going throughout the gym as the hours unfolded.

2025 quarterback Aaron Rogers and 2025 running back Mario Williams expressed to the Herald that they felt at the end of the season like the team could have been better bonded and were both excited about the opportunity of spending more time with their teammates.

Rogers and Williams told the Herald they were hoping to gain a lot more trust with their teammates throughout the night as the Lions were all there doing something none of their competition was doing. 

2025 guard T.J.Ehrke told the Herald that he hoped the night they shared brought everyone on the roster together so they could be closer as a team.

Ehrke added that they made significant strides through last season, but said with more time with one another they will continue to add success.

“We’re going to be more united as one,” Ehrke said.

Live Oak players enjoyed a catered breakfast from Huckleberry’s in the morning where they ended their time with one another for the night.

The Lions open the 2024 football season with a home game on Friday, August 30, against a former Northern Section foe in the Wheatland Pirates.

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