The whistle blew in practice Friday and Linn-Mar Coach Bob Forsyth barked at his team for doing something wrong.
The wrong play? No.
The wrong scheme? No.
The wrong way to break the huddle? No, that wasn't it either.
As it turned out, the Lions didn't leave the field properly for a water break. And to reinforce the proper way to take a water break, the Lions had to run a series of 100-yard dashes at the Linn-Mar Stadium.
It's called attention to detail.
"Yeah, we have to teach everything," Forsyth acknowledged later. "Everything we do we're teaching from the ground level."
Linn-Mar had a superb season last year before having their hearts ripped out by Cedar Rapids Washington in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs. The Lions won 10 straight games and rose to No. 2 in the polls, but only a handful of those players are back.
There are only three returning starters and only five players with significant varsity experience.
"There's no doubt we have a lot of inexperienced kids," Forsyth said. "But the good thing is, when you're inexperienced you can make a lot of progress quick.
"The kids have done a great job in camp and in two-a-days. We're a much better football team today than we were yesterday or last week, and that's what's important to me right now."
Quarterback Mark Atwater is gone after passing for 1,715 yards, running for 808 yards and accounting for 34 touchdowns.
Receiver Andy Henry is gone after catching 53 passes for 1,020 yards and 18 TDs.
Tailback Mitch Wantock is gone after rushing for 1,109 yards and nine touchdowns before suffering a broken ankle in the final game of the regular season against Xavier.
Most of the offensive and defensive linemen are gone. Most of the linebackers and defensive backs are gone. Most of the experience and savvy are gone.
One thing is not gone, however, and that's lofty goals.
"We are in defense of the conference championship and we take that very seriously," Forsyth declared. "We want to defend that championship. That's going to be our immediate goal."
The Lions lost 19 of 22 starters, but they're not crying about it.
"That's the nature of football, that's the nature of athletics. Right?," Forsyth said. "People leave, people get hurt, so you have to figure out a way to do what you can do."
Rhys Davis, a senior, is the new starting quarterback. He was the third-string QB last year and ran the junior varsity squad in games, but took only a few snaps for the varsity. He welcomes the challenge of succeeding Atwater at the helm.
"It's not a whole lot of pressure, I don't feel," he said. "Playing behind a guy like Mark Atwater - an amazing athlete, amazing kid, great role model - for me to be able to have the opportunity to play behind him and learn from one of the best that Linn-Mar has ever seen, I think that works to my advantage.
"I just keep working hard, getting the best out of every practice and hopefully I'll hit that field on Friday nights and show everybody what I've got."
Forsyth likes what he's seen of Davis in training camp.
"He's made a lot of progress. He really has," the coach said. "He has pretty good footwork and throwing the ball is a good strength for him. And he's a good runner. He can run the ball well. So we're kind of excited about that."
Nick Trabucco, who rushed for 258 yards at fullback last year, has switched to tailback and will split the job with Ross Lembeck, who was promoted from the sophomore team last season after Wantock broke his ankle and ran for 114 yards in two games.
Zach Martins, who caught 12 passes last season, could be one of the main receivers this season along with Matt Meier, a recruit from the basketball program.
Justin Green, a tough 240-pounder, returns on the offensive line, but the rest of the starting O-Line will be new.
Green, Martins and Trabucco are the three returning starters. Lembeck and linebacker Luke Meyer are the other two players with significant varsity experience. Otherwise, there are a lot of new names on the roster.
"A lot of people say we can't do it, but I have faith in every guy on this team," said Green, who will be a two-way starter.
"I think it's important for everybody to believe in each other," Davis added. "If we start thinking, 'We lost all these seniors, we can't do it,' then we're not going to.
"Keep working, keep working hard and keep believing in each other and I think we'll be fine."
Linn-Mar compiled a perfect 9-0 record in the Mississippi Valley Conference last season and defeated Clinton, 47-0, in the first round of the playoffs. The season ended in tears, however, when Washington beat them 28-26 in the next round in the final seconds.
"It burned," Green said. "I don't want to ever feel that again. It still burns me inside talking about it. I just don't want to see the seniors this year go through that. It was the worst thing I've ever seen."
The Lions thought they had a chance to win the state title last year. Then Wantock got hurt, robbing them of a key weapon, and they lost to Washington on their own field after holding a seemingly comfortable lead in the game.
"I'll tell you what, it took us awhile to close the book on that one," Forsyth said. "It did leave a bad taste in our mouth, and I think the kids have responded."
The Lions are looking forward to the opener against Iowa City West on Aug. 24 at Linn-Mar Stadium.
"Come out and be supportive and expecting surprises," Davis said. "I have all the faith in the world that we can be the new Linn-Mar team.
"I want everybody to know, we're not going to be last year's team. We're our own team, we have our own chemistry, we have our own weapons. So come out looking for something new."
Aug. 24 -- Iowa City West
Aug. 30 -- at Dubuque Senior
Sept. 7 -- at Waterloo West
Sept. 14 -- Washington
Sept. 21 -- Cedar Falls
Sept. 28 -- at Dubuque Wahlert
Oct. 5 -- Prairie
Oct. 12 -- Iowa City High
Oct. 19 -- at Xavier
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