ILION — Central Valley Thunder football practice recently took a different twist as head coach Jon Cole and staff stepped aside and let the U.S. Marine Corps take over.

Major Mastin Robeson, commanding officer of Recruiting Station Albany, and his team of nine regional Marine recruiters put the football team through an intense three-hour leadership seminar.

The seminar focused heavily on respect, leadership, teamwork and heart — qualities Robeson said are fundamental to success on the playing field and in life.

Robeson explained football games are not won on the field; they are won in practice. Practice conditions, builds skills and creates a team, he said. That sense of teamwork is critical because individuals do not win football games — teams do, according to Robeson.

For the remainder of the time, the Marines led the Thunder through tough warm-up drills and team building challenges.

Local Marine recruiter Sgt. Claudio Rodriguez recommended Central Valley as a candidate for the Recruiting Station Albany Leadership Seminar.

According to a news release, Rodriguez said Central Valley was a great school with a good football program, but that some of the old Ilion-Mohawk rivalries persisted. He recognized the seminar as an opportunity to help the Thunder come together and realize their potential as a team. He spoke with Cole who was open to the idea.

"This was good, I hope what they learned today will carry over into our practices and the entire football season." said Cole in the release. "Today has the potential of helping us set aside the ‘me’ and focus on the team. If that happens, this could be a great season."

The Thunder’s first home game is at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept 16, versus Oneida High School.