A New Start For Cedar Rapids Washington

By Jeff Linder & Josh Christensen, Reporters

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A water fountain was available and accessible. But on this cool, cloudy morning, it was unnecessary.

It felt like football weather.

The Washington Warriors were one of hundreds of high school football teams in Iowa that opened football practice (as well as volleyball, cross country and swimming) Monday.

Everybody's undefeated. And everybody's optimistic.

"Of course we'd like to win them all, but realistically, I'd be happy with 6-3 or 7-2," said Reid Snitker, a free safety who also is vying for the starting quarterback job.

Preseason two-a-days are history in Iowa. So after Paul James — who took over as head coach in May, shortly after Tony Lombardi resigned under fire — concluded his first-day speech, the Warriors were on the clock.

The 3-hour workout consisted of 110 minutes of offensive drills, 70 of defensive work. The plan was to flip-flop that Tuesday.

"When I used to coach, we'd be on the field 6 hours a day," James said. "I think this is good for the kids and the coaches. We can get in knocked out, and have the rest of the day free."

So the theme was efficiency. Don't walk to the next drill when you can jog.

Washington was 3-6 and missed the playoffs last season. The offseason was turbulent, with charges stemmed against Lombardi about mistreating players. James opted to try the dual role of coach and athletics director.

"It's been good so far," said Jake Bjornsen, who led the team in tackles last season. "I think he's a great coach. Lombardi was a great coach too. They just have different styles."

James' first job Monday before practice was to inform the team that the Lombardi family was leaving for West Des Moines. Rocky Lombardi, a freshman, was competing for the varsity quarterback job.

"You just need to take care of yourselves," James told the Warriors. "Good things will happen. We've got a good group of guys here.

"We need to keep moving forward. There's no reason to look back."

Washington opens at Kingston Stadium on Aug. 30 against Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
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