For four months, the Century football players focused on sharpening their skills by lifting weights several days a week.
They also did speed, agility and conditioning drills as part of a program installed by first-year coach Todd Edmondson in January when he took over Century's reins.
"We base it on Olympic lifting in the weight room," Edmondson said. "So it's a really good strength and conditioning program."
The Knights, who went 8-3 last year and made the playoffs for the first time since 2009, finally got a chance to play some football this month when they joined the county's 7 on 7 summer passing league — which started in 2010 — along with Manchester Valley, Winters Mill, South Carroll, and Liberty.
The final two days of the summer league were postponed last week because of bad weather, and recheduled for July 24 and July 26.
During the summer league, the Century coaching staff — Frank Herrea (defensive coordinator), Dan Peters (secondary), Dan Gebhart (offensive assistant), Mike Cain (offensive line), Roger Thurman (offensive assistant), and Tyler Thompson (linebackers) — was able to better evaluate its players.
It also gave the players a chance to learn Edmondson's system.
The Knights are planning to run the same pro-style offense and 4-4 defense Edmondson employed for two seasons while leading North Carroll to consecutive playoff berths in 2014 and 2015.
In 2014, the team boasted a 9-3 record bolstered by a home postseason win, the first in program history.
"No one else in the county has had as much turnover," Edmondson explained. "So (some of our opponents) are probably ahead of us. It's going to be a new system both offensively and defensively for us. The players are going to have to learn the language.
"Any time you can get them out there before practices start in August is going to be a positive. It's the first time I can see our players doing football activities."
Even so, offensive and defensive linemen are not involved in 7 on 7 drills.
Each team played three 40-minute games on 40-yard fields per session with quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers being defended by cornerbacks and linebackers.
There was plenty of work for Century rising senior quarterback Collin Ende, who earned Times first-team all-county honors last year after passing for 18 touchdowns and 1,552 yards. Edmondson said he understood Ende needed on-the-field work as much as any player.
The new coach liked what he saw from Ende, who suffered a foot injury last year and had off-season surgery.
"I could tell he was hesitant because of the injury," said Edmondson, who worked as a volunteer assistant coach at South Carroll last year. "He was getting better every time in the 7 on 7s. He was reading the defense well and knowing where and when to throw the ball. He has a strong arm, size, quickness and leadership qualities."
Ende was joined by Times first-team all-county running back Stephen Shinholt (979 yards rushing, 10 TDs), linebacker/fullback Jake Schneider, wide receiver/cornerback Jimmy Wiley, cornerback/wide receiver Evan Usi, wide receiver/linebacker Aaron Wilcox, running back/free safety Nick Jones, linebacker J.T. Snyder, and linebacker/wide receiver Nick Dahl.
Ende said building team chemistry was vital. The coaching staff wasn't the only part of Century's team that experienced significant turnover, making the 7 on 7 sessions crucial.
"If we didn't have these, we would be behind in August definitely," Ende said. "We graduated over 20 seniors. It's a whole different year. It's just great to get back out there working on timing and getting with the new coaches. It was exciting."
"We were pretty eager to get on the field," he said. "It's one thing to be working out this summer, but 7 on 7 was a great way to start playing football."