Sweat was pouring off Chester's football players so hard they looked like they had been caught outside during a thunderstorm.
And they were dressed in shorts and T-shirts, not full gear and pads.
They had just finished their time running the hill and steps at the Cyclones' stadium. They do it at least three times a week, and it's mostly for conditioning. But it's also a tool first-year coach Anthony Sterling is using to let his players know to do things his way or hit the highway.
"The thing about coach Sterling is he's very serious about discipline, something we already had but something he wants to take to another level,'' said Brent Minter, a senior tailback/defensive back. "He pushes us hard and is a good leader. At practice it seems like he can see all of us at the same time ... keeps an eye on us.
"It's because he wants to make sure we are getting the job done. He's a defensive coach, but he has a good understanding of offense. He's a good coach, a good fit and we are glad he's here.''
Sterling is the seniors' third head coach in four years.
Chester's players learned the importance of discipline under former coach Victor Floyd, who left for a job in Brunswick, Ga., after rebuilding the program and taking the Cyclones to the Class AAA state championship game in 2007.
Next up was Maurice Flowers, who took the Cyclones back to the championship game in 2008 and left after two seasons for a job at his alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University of Charlotte, to be the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Both left behind a good coaching staff, including Sterling, who came with Flowers from West Charlotte High to run the defense. When Flowers departed, the school wasted no time in promoting Sterling.
"Nothing has really changed,'' Sterling said. "Coach Floyd got it started, coach Flowers continued it and now it's my job to keep the tradition we've established going.
"Because I'm familiar with the players, the transition has gone well. We've had adversity, just like every team. But the key in football is to meet those situations head-on and not fold.''
Those lessons will be key. The South Carolina High School League's latest realignment may leave Region 4-AAA as the toughest in South Carolina during the next two years.
The region includes Chester, which has a 33-9 record the last three years, including 10-2 last season. Joining the Cyclones is Fairfield Central, which always has one of the top teams in Class AAA.
The other four teams were in Class AAAA last season. The most formidable is South Pointe, which won the Class AAAA Division II state championship two years ago and missed going back last year by a game.
Then there's Fort Mill, Nation Ford and York. All three are expected to be more competitive this season.
Chester returns two major college prospects in quarterback Tony McNeal, who committed to Clemson, and running back/defensive back Julius Pendergrass, who said he will commit to Kentucky when he takes his official recruiting visit.
"I went ahead and committed early so I can concentrate on my senior season," said McNeal, who has passed for 5,262 yards and 55 touchdowns in his two seasons. That's despite playing in only eight games last year because of a knee injury.
"It came down to Clemson and Miami, but (Clemson coach) Dabo Swinney impressed me and said I'll take some snaps when I come in.
"But this season is my top priority and we want to play in the state championship again. I see South Pointe as a big challenge for us to get there, but it's good to have them in our region.''
McNeal, 6-feet-2, 190 pounds, will graduate in January and enroll at Clemson so he can compete with the Tigers in spring practice.
Chester's reputation is spreading among college coaches, and the Cyclones have sent their share of players to major colleges.
C.C. Whitlock is a defensive back at South Carolina and Gene McCaskill is a wide receiver at Kentucky.
Chester's Kalon Davis is a freshman offensive lineman at Clemson.
"One of the good things about being recruiting is college coaches come watch us and find out we have lots of talent here,'' Pendergrass said. "It helps other players get scholarships, even if they are from smaller schools. That way, all of us win.''
Minter said he's interested in N.C. State and Duke. Another talented Cyclone, wide receiver Tevin Worthy, has several smaller schools keeping tabs on him.
"Playing at Chester has been a good experience,'' he said. "We have a new coach who stresses at all times that we go hard. I believe it will pay off.
"Last year when Tony got injured, I took over at quarterback until he got back. It was fun, but I'm a wide receiver all the way. That's where I play the best and it's the position the colleges I've talked to want me to play.''