Cane Bay football coach Jeff Cruce called the plays during practice, but trainer Laren Siesken called the shots.

Because of Friday's oppressive weather, a temperature of 95 degrees with a heat index of 119, Siesken had the power to halt practice, which he did at noon.

"They were supposed to practice until 1 o'clock, but I knew it was going to be bad. Friday was unique," said Siesken, a trainer for Trident Sports Medicine who has 11 years of experience. "When I get in in the morning, I use weather.com, which allows you to zoom to your exact location in and get up-to-the-minute weather reports."

Most teams around the state held their first day of practice on Friday, and the opponent was the weather. Coaches and trainers demanded their players take water breaks, take off their helmets and to let the proper authorities know if they felt dizzy or faint.

It's a routine that's just the opposite of the good old days when practices included no water breaks, salt tablets and a macho attitude.

But today, coaches and trainers err on the side of caution.

"Coach Cruce is so understanding when it comes to weather issues," Siesken said. "He asked me three of four times if he should stop practice."

That mind-set has helped lower the number of heat-related deaths around the country in recent years.

A University of North Carolina-based National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research showed that 39 football players have died from heat-related issues since 1995. Four players have died in the last two football seasons.

The heat-stroke death of Minnesota Vikings lineman Korey Stringer in 2001 prompted many coaches to change their workouts and their way of thinking.

Dr. Joseph Calandra, a local sports medicine physician, said Friday was an unsafe day to practice football, especially in the afternoon.

"Ideally, teams should practice at 7 in the morning and 7 at night, but that's not going to happen because of transportation issues," he said.

Calandra said student- athletes should be well-hydrated during practice, and that it was good to use a sports drink such as Gatorade or Powerade.

"By the time they get home from practice, they should be cooled down sufficiently," he said. "Parents should keep an eye on their kids when it gets like this. If they get up out of a chair and they're dizzy or faint, that means they're not properly hydrated."

Calandra said athletes do not need sports drinks when they are home.

"They need to drink eight to 10 glasses of liquids, and ideally it would be 2-percent milk with some chocolate in it," Calandra said. "This helps replace the calcium you lose when you sweat, and it also gives you a little protein."

The chocolate has protein and makes the milk taste better. Calandra said there's also another school group that needs to be careful when the heat index reaches 100 degrees.

"The bands," Calandra said. "We have as many heat problems with band members as we do with the football players when the weather's like this."