A group of sleepy-eyed Northview Chiefs filed out of their charter bus Thursday at the CoCo Key Water Resort, a little more than 24 hours in advance of tonight's Class 1A state championship game against Trenton.
After a long, and somewhat exhausting journey, the Chiefs finally reached their destination a little after 5 p.m. local time on Thursday.
"The trip over to Gainesville was a very long trip," senior Logan Weber said. "That was a little bit more relaxed, more enjoyable. The trip here was very business-like. We were very focused on what we're here to do."
The Chiefs broke the trip up over two days, taking in an early morning practice at Northview High on Tuesday before driving to Gainesville that afternoon.
Along the way, the team got a few sendoffs from elementary school students in the area.
"We went by the (Bratt) elementary school, we went by Ernest Ward and then we went by Byrneville, which is another feeder school," Northview coach Sid Wheatley said. "The players love it. You have the little kids outside with their signs and shakers and just jumping up and down. It was a neat experience."
The Chiefs spent the night in Gainesville before the big surprise -- a walkthrough at Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
"It was amazing," senior tailback LaMikal Kyles said. "I was kind of shocked when I got there. We didn't know we were going there until we drove up."
Wheatley said he kept the trip to The Swamp as a surprise, and judging by the players' reaction when they drove up to the iconic stadium, it worked.
"It was good for the kids," Wheatley said. "They were excited. It was like a big applause, they were really excited and they were screaming.
"Just to get in the big stadium with that layout, it was a really neat experience for them. Once they got settled in and got all of the star-gazing out of the way at the start, it was good. They were on task and I thought they focused well."
Wheatley said the purpose of doing the walkthrough at Florida was to get the players acclimated to the environment.
"It was a pretty awesome experience, to step into the stadium," Wheatley said. "It was empty and it was echoing. It was just awesome. It's not like Northview; a lot bigger, a lot better than I was expecting. I've never been to a football stadium like that before, so it was cool."
After the long, two-day trip, Wheatley said the plans were to eat an early dinner Thursday night, then retire early so the players get plenty of rest prior to tonight's 6:07 contest against Trenton.
"(Thursday night) will be an earlier night for us," Wheatley said. "I think tonight they'll be a little bit more focused in. Last night was the first night of the trip and we ate, had fun and settled in kind of late.
"(Thursday night) we'll be in bed a little earlier, we'll make sure all our guys are in, we'll take away all the electronic devices like we did last week."