TRINITY, Ala. — Dalton Hall does not get a moment to catch his breath.
When the horn sounds to signal halftime, Hall immediately takes off his shoulder pads and pulls on a clean black shirt.
Instead of following his West Morgan High School football teammates into the locker room to make halftime adjustments, Hall joins another group of peers: members of West Morgan’s marching band.
On football game nights, Hall pulls double duty. The senior starts for West Morgan on the defensive line, and during the halftime show is a member of the band’s drum line.
Hall also plays the drums during services at Cornerstone Church in Moulton.
“I think it catches people off guard, especially at other schools,” Hall said. “You don’t see many high school bands that have a drummer wearing football pants and cleats.”
It is a rare sight.
In Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties, Hall is the only football player who participates in the school’s halftime performance.
“You don’t see this combination very often,” West Morgan coach John Ritter said. “I can only remember hearing about one or two other instances.”
On the football field, Hall is not a newbie. He played in middle school, but gradually steered away from football to follow his passion for music.
But last year, when West Morgan hired Ritter as the school’s football coach, Hall asked if it would be possible to join the football team — with one stipulation: He wanted to continue to participate in the band’s halftime performance.
“I said, ‘Why not?’ ” Ritter said. “Dalton is a big kid. He looked like a kid who could help us on the football field. I looked into it and found out our practices wouldn’t conflict, and we got him on our football team.”
Hall was glad Ritter made the accommodation. Even though he loves being in the band, Hall missed being on the football field.
When Hall decided to give up football in middle school, it was a tough decision.
“My buddy that I hung out with all the time, his older brother was a drummer in West Morgan’s band,” Hall said. “And I remember being over at his house, listening to his brother play the drums — listening to some of the wild beats he could come up with.
“I fell in love with the drums. I wanted to learn how to make those same beats.”
Hall’s transition back to football has been smooth.
As a junior last season, Hall played his way into West Morgan’s starting lineup, and the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder now is making an impact as the Rebels (2-1) are off to their best start in years.
“There’s no doubt that Dalton has helped our team,” Ritter said. “He’s a big, strong guy in the middle of our defensive line. He gets after it. He’s done a good job.”
For Hall, it has been a time-consuming process.
Each day after school, Hall practices until 5:30 p.m. with the football team. Following practice, he quickly changes clothes and attends band practice from 6 p.m. to about 8:30 p.m.
“And then I go home, do whatever homework I have and go to bed,” Hall said. “All of this stuff keeps me pretty busy. There’s not a lot of free time. It’s worth it, though. I love what I do.”
Game nights are just as hectic. When the halftime show is finished?
“I hurry back to the locker room, get my pads on and check with my coaches about any adjustments we’re making,” Hall said. “There’s not a lot of time, but we make it work.”
“If there’s a lot to go over, we’ll get with him on the sideline before the second half begins,” the West Morgan coach said. “This isn’t something you deal with every season, but it’s like I said from the very beginning, we can make it work.
“And Dalton has done a great job of making it work. He’s a good, well-rounded kid who has put a lot of time and work into pulling this off. It’s pretty remarkable.”
Hall said the personal sacrifices he made, primarily giving up the majority of his free time in the fall season, have been worthwhile.
When Hall graduates from West Morgan in the spring, he hopes to have an opportunity to pursue one of his two favorite extracurricular activities: football or band.
“I would love an opportunity to do either one in college,” Hall said. “But if that doesn’t work out, I still plan to go to school. And I think I’ll be prepared. By being well-rounded, playing football and being in the band, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned the importance of hard work, and I’ve gained lots of self-confidence.
“The path I’ve traveled in high school is going to help me for the rest of my life.”
Information from: The Decatur Daily, http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/index.shtml