GLEN DALE - Nearly 45 minutes after the second of two practices on an early preseason day, music was blaring and iron was pumping inside the John Marshall weight room. Roughly 12-15 Monarchs weren't satisfied with the work they had just finished in the hot August sun, so they went inside for a little extra.
According to second-year coach Rick Goodrich, that has been the norm recently as the school with a once-proud football tradition continues to try to climb out of the darkness of the abyss.
''We start at 8 (a.m.) and some of them get here at 7 to get a workout in, too,'' Goodrich said. ''They love it and they believe in what we're doing.''
Still, you'll have to excuse Goodrich for not breaking out in a series of cartwheels on the practice field. Sure, the participation and the work ethic are up, but at the end of the day Goodrich knows he's ultimately judged on victories and defeats, and this season's schedule doesn't leave much room for error.
''It's not fixed yet but people don't want to hear that,'' Goodrich said. ''Fans are going to see significant difference out there. They're going to see a team that competes much harder and we will be a much better product.
''Whether that transfers into wins or losses, I don't know.''
What Goodrich is sure of, is that he has a workhorse running back at his disposal that wasn't there last season. Trevor Hardesty (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) transferred from Cambridge and has taken over a large portion of the leadership, up to and including those extra sessions in the weight room.
Judging from his solid physique, it's easy to ascertain this isn't Hardesty's first foray into weight training.
''I've been working out with the kid since seventh grade and he started for us at middle linebacker (at Cambridge) as a freshman,'' Goodrich recalled. ''Our kids down here were awestruck ... it was like Herschel Walker or somebody came in.
''They just try to feed off his intensity.
They see him in the wind sprints - he wins almost every one. They see him busting it in the weight room.
''He's making us a better football team.''
There was a three-way battle for the quarterback spot in camp, with junior Aaron Bishop (5-10, 165) leading the way because, as Goodrich put it ''he was the jayvee quarterback and has the experience.'' Bishop is trying to fend off senior Jerrick Waldrum (5-8, 160) and sophomore Noah Martin (5-8, 155).
''Honest to God it's a day-to-day battle,'' Goodrich said. ''The Waldrum kid has never played football but he's athletic and brings some things to the table and the Martin kid is very promising.''
If Waldrum doesn't win the QB job, he'll see some time at wideout and perhaps in a Wildcat package.
Speaking of wideout, there's a jungle's worth of possibilities.
''It's a logjam,'' the coach said.
Juniors Alex Whorton (6-0, 155) and Jared Horan (5-9, 155) are back, but big things are being expected out of sophomores Austin Skrzyneki (5-11, 165) and Tyler Goode (5-8, 155). There's also Lee Henry, another sophomore, and Patrick Yocum (5-11, 130). Henry could also see time at running back and ''is going to be a good one for us,'' Goodrich said.
Up front is where games are won and lost, and the Monarchs have three of the four positions back, the lone exception being center.
On the left side will be juniors Marshall Springer (6-4, 250) and Dallas Catlett (5-9, 240) at tackle and guard, respectively, while on the right side at the same positions are senior Brayden Carter (5-8, 200) and junior Scott Kubancik (6-3, 215), who saw time at every position across the line a season ago.
''Just because they're back doesn't mean anything. They've got to get better, and I think they will,'' Goodrich said. ''In the past, they were a little passive because all they were really doing is pass blocking, and it's hard to change that mindset overnight.
''These guys have really been coming along with it. I will be anxious to see their aggressive nature.''
Three players - senior Randy Bane (5-8, 210), junior Thad Herback (5-9, 215) and sophomore Gage Adams (5-11, 285) - are fighting it out at center.
''I wouldn't be surprised if the sophomore is in there because he is pretty scrappy,'' Goodrich said.
At tight end will be another underclassman, sophomore Dalton Blake (6-3, 21). The search is on for a No. 2 though, with seniors Levi Rogerson (6-2, 195) and Kenny Noice (6-5, 185), as well as sophomore Jacob Maury (5-10, 185) in competition.
The fullback position will be any combination of senior Alan Miller (5-6, 195), junior Luke Howard (5-11, 190), who played there last season, and sophomore Chase Gump (6-0, 190).
''Miller is another kid who really works hard in the weight room. He looks good and could also play some backup tailback,'' the coach said. ''Those guys aren't afraid to mix it up and they know the concept is to stick your face in there, lower your pads and get you out of there.''
On the defensive side of the ball, Hardesty will lead from his middle linebacking post, where Goodrich expects at least 20 tackles, in addition to carrying the football 25 times a game.
Junior Cameron Fisher (6-2, 205) will man the nose tackle position. Rogerson will be at one of the defensive end spots, while Kubancik will be at the other.
Howard and Carter join Hardesty as inside backers, with Miller and Whorton outside. Gump figures in there too at some point.
The secondary will be young with Horan, Skrzyneki and Goode starting, and Waldrum expected to see some time along with senior Tanner Runkle (6-0, 170).
''They both run well, understand the game and they've got that attitude about them,'' Goodrich said of Goode and Skrzyneki. ''There's no age limit on being a leader or on hard work or effort.
''We'll put the best guys on the field that deserve to be there. I don't believe in that sense of entitlement.''
The Monarchs open a week later than everyone else because of their bye and welcome Bellaire to Monarch Stadium on Sept. 6. The rivalry game with Wheeling Park is back at its customary position at the end of the schedule.
''I like to play 10 straight and I didn't like that bye week last year,'' Goodrich said. ''Our schedule's going to be challenging.
''Everyone we play is going to be better, and we're going to be better.''
Goodrich is assisted by Gerald Miller, Bob Triveri, Lance Phillips, Joel Sansone, Mike Sforza, Joe Sturgill, Geno Polsinelli, Ray Anderson, Jason Willis, Andy Etzel and Gary Zelinski.
Randy Bane, Reed Campbell, Brayden Carter, Cole Croghan, Kenny Corley, Trevor Hardesty, Ralph Howe, Austin Litman, Alan Miller, Kenny Noice, Levi Rogerson, Tanner Runkle, Marshall Springer, CJ Vega, Jerrick Waldrum, Matt Zelic.
Andrew Armstrong, Daniel Baker, Aaron Bishop, Michael Bland, Tyler Carney, Dallas Catlett, Brandon DeBolt, Tyler DeBolt, Trent Estep, Zack Evans, Cameron Fisher, Thad Herback, Jared Horan, Luke Howard, DJ Kaylor, Scott Kubancik, Jonathan Taylor, Alex Whorton, Patrick Yocum.
Gage Adams, Zeke Andrews, Brandon Bertrand, Cory Birkett, Dalton Blake, Kozzie Brannan, Chance Buchner, Kyle Caruso, Riley Crow, Tyler Goode, Chase Gump, Kenny Henry, Lee Henry, Alek Kesselring, Hunter Lockhart, Noah Martin, Jacob Maury, Logan McGlumphy, Jimmy Michelucci, Chase Richmond, Nathan Rice, Austin Schwing, Austin Skrzyneki, Matt Wesolowski, Kevin Williams.