As it has done the last several years, Eastmoor Academy traveled out of town to practice at a college facility shortly after two-a-days began in early August.
This year's trip to Ohio Northern included one 5 a.m. practice session as a reinforcement regarding the importance of being on time.
The time away from the normal is something 17th-year coach Jim Miranda uses to establish a seasonal foundation, but it included more teaching of the basics this year than throughout most of his time leading the program.
Following a 12-2 finish in which they won the City League-South Division at 7-0 and reached a Division III state semifinal, the Warriors lost nearly all of their key players to graduation.
There are only two players, seniors DaHan Franks and Cameron Long, who played significant roles last season when Eastmoor overcame a series of injuries to beat Hartley 19-14 in a regional semifinal and Thornville Sheridan 20-14 for the Region 11 title.
The Warriors, who were making their eighth playoff appearance under Miranda, lost to eventual state champion Chagrin Falls 40-7 in a state semifinal. It was their second appearance in that round, with the other coming in 2008 when they lost in the Division III state title game.
"It was good to get them away from all the distractions (on the trip to Ohio Northern)," Miranda said. "I've got a captive audience. It was a good experience. You've got the kids at breakfast, then practice, lunch and practice and then a team meal. We're just trying to find ourselves. Basically we've got two returning starters, and that's it. Everybody is new everywhere."
Eastmoor, which opens Aug. 30 at home against Division VII playoff-qualifier Harvest Prep, has solid enough participation numbers to keep it afloat as its players mature.
In particular, Miranda is high on a freshman class that could end up with five or more immediate contributors.
"So far it's been going pretty well," Long said. "We have a lot of new guys, but they're getting the offense and defense down, so we'll be pretty decent by the time the season comes. We know we have to protect our name across the City (League) because everybody's coming for us since we made the playoff run. We're pretty much at the top right now and have to keep the culture going."
Long should fill a variety of roles on offense, including running back and slot receiver. During last year's regular season, he had 14 receptions for 283 yards and three touchdowns and added a rushing score.
Senior Demetrius Salley is expected to be at quarterback after serving as the backup last season to Marquise Laster, a 2019 graduate who had 19 touchdown passes and two interceptions during the regular season.
Senior Julian Binford, who was the leading scorer last winter for the boys basketball team, which also is coached by Miranda, should see time in the backfield along with junior Cameron Foster, senior Antonio Tatum and freshman Donovan Lewis.
Seniors Abdoulaye Baradji and Emanuel Conway likely will be the tackles, with sophomore Cheikh Ndiaye at center and seniors Daemeion Carter and Tre'Monte Rayford at guard.
The biggest loss to graduation was running back Savon Edwards, who produced more than 2,000 all-purpose yards and scored 32 touchdowns while being named district Offensive Player of the Year. He is playing for City College of San Francisco.
Franks and Long both should play key roles on defense, with Franks returning at linebacker and Long expected to be at cornerback.
Sophomore Diamonte Salley and freshmen Ahmade Armstrong and Kamar King also should be at linebacker.
Senior Chamon Turner should be the free safety, with Binford and junior Antonio Jenkins among other options at safety and Foster likely at the other cornerback spot.
Senior Corey English should start at defensive tackle, where juniors Bronson Jones and Davontae Oliver also should see time.
The biggest losses on defense were 2019 graduates Travis Clodfelter on the line, Miicah Coleman and Tyree Grace-Sawyer at linebacker and Kylan Birchmore and Napoleon Harris at safety.
Senior Gilbert Ansu likely will be the kicker after making 39 extra points and one field goal last season, but senior Wesley Githinji also could see time in that role.
Competing for the punter job during the preseason were Ansu and freshman Nathaniel Thomas.
Long averaged more than 40 yards on kickoff returns and more than 30 yards on punt returns last season, with three returns for scores.
Quarterbacks: *Demetrius Salley (sr., 6-2, 175), Ahmad Armstrong (fr., 5-10, 176), Khyren Mann (jr., 5-7, 166)
Running backs: *Julian Binford (sr., 5-7, 145), *Cameron Long (sr., 5-10, 160), Cameron Foster (jr., 5-7, 140), Donovan Lewis (fr., 5-10, 163), Antonio Tatum (sr., 5-6, 136)
Receivers: *DaHan Franks (sr., 5-9, 165), *Chamon Turner (sr., 6-1, 165), Long, Diamonte Salley (so., 5-11, 165), Nathaniel Thomas (fr., 5-7, 134)
Tight ends: Omar Barry (jr., 6-2, 207), Mathew Washington (fr., 6-2, 182)
Linemen: *Abdoulaye Baradji (sr., 6-3, 225), *Daemeion Carter (sr., 5-10, 218), *Emanuel Conway (sr., 6-0, 210), *Cheikh Ndiaye (so., 5-9, 182), *Tre'Monte Rayford (sr., 5-11, 175), Corey English (sr., 5-10, 245), Bronson Jones (jr., 6-2, 185), Davontae Oliver (jr., 5-5, 210)
Linemen: *English, *Jones, *Oliver, Baradji, Carter, Conway, Rayford
Linebackers: *Franks, *Diamonte Salley, Armstrong, Kamar King (fr., 5-7, 182)
Secondary: *Binford, *Foster, *Long, *Turner, Mitchell Gyamfi (jr., 5-8, 141), Antonio Jenkins (jr., 5-11, 164), Lewis, Thomas
Kickers: *Gilbert Ansu (sr., 5-9, 150), Wesley Githinji (sr., 5-11, 205)
Punters: Ansu, Thomas
Returners: *Binford, *Foster, *Long, Turner
Long snapper: *Ndiaye
(*Denotes projected starter)