PENNSBURG — Training camp is all of two weeks for the Perkiomen School football team.
The players, like all the Perk School students, arrived on campus a couple weeks ago, played in a scrimmage last weekend, and tonight their 2013 season starts.
The Panthers open the season 4 p.m. today against Carson Long Military Academy, at the Warriors' field in New Bloomfield, 25 miles northwest of Harrisburg.
Perkiomen head coach Tom Calvario, now in his fourth year, may feel the stress about the annual short prep time but takes it all in stride and tries to get the most out of every practice day.
Still, he wasn't too thrilled with that scrimmage last weekend against Mount Pleasant High School even if it was after just one short week of camp.
"We looked painfully slow,' Calvario said.
Some things, like the short training camp, never change for the Panthers. But, as with all high school football teams, the names and faces, and sometimes the positions, change from year to year.
The Panthers big change this year is under center, with Isaiah Thomas, their starting quarterback for the past two seasons, moving to running back to make way for senior transfer Patrick Scotto, of Wrightstown, N.J., who is taking over as the Panthers signal caller.
"We have a kid that came that is going to play for us at quarterback and Isaiah is moved to running back,' Calvario said. "Patrick came in, he wanted to be at a better school, applied and we accepted him. He's about 5-10, 5-11, probably about 160, 170 pounds. He has bonded very well with the players.'
The Panthers needed to bolster the backfield this year with former standouts John Garrett and John Williams graduating. Smith should do well. It runs in the family after his older brother Abdul Smith was Perkiomen's star quarterback in the late 2000s.
"I talked to Isaiah about it before we even accepted Patrick,' Calvario said. "I just told Isaiah we have an opportunity to get a quarterback in here. His answer to me was, ' Coach, if it's going to make us better, possibly win more games, let's bring him in.''
But the loss of former standouts Garrett and Williams has to hurt his year.
"One thing I never do is talk about the past,' Calvario said. "We want to concentrate on the now. We can only do what is before us right now. And what is before us right now is, we've got to mature in a hurry. We've got to get in much, much better condition, got to get in better mental football shape to be able to understand things and pick things up to try to put us in a position to have some success. That's the challenge.'
The numbers are exactly the same as last year, with a total 26 players on the Panthers roster.
Yes, some are new. Some, as always, even new to the sport, And, yes, some additional key members graduated.
"Eleven out of our 26 players are first time on the team,' Calvario said. "Numbers-wise, we're OK. But it's a challenge. And we, as coaches, are trying to keep things as simplified as we possibly can for them to have some success and not be completely overwhelmed.
"As far as anything in the past goes, I have not brought it up. It's not part of my philosophy. If we played a game yesterday, it's over, it's done with.
But Calvario and his two assistant coaches, Tony Lambert and Keegan Ash — the entirety of the Perkiomen staff — are working hard to get the team ready in a hurry.
The Panthers will again have an eight-game schedule, but with four new teams on it this year.
"Our contract was up with the teams that are not on the schedule anymore,' Calvario said. "So we just picked up four new teams. They are our caliber, but they'll be more competitive games.'
Asked if the goal he preaches to his team is to win even more games this year after last year's 5-3 finish, Calvario wouldn't even go there.
"One game at a time,' he said. "No record (talk), just one game at a time. Our biggest concern is the depth. We have no depth. Because after the first 13, 14 kids, then it really drops off.
"What pleases me most is, after our second week of practice, the players are finally starting come around after going into our second. They are excited for the season to start.
"It will be a challenge every week, seeing who is playing the best. Because we told them, ' Just because you're 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, doesn't mean you're going to start every week.' We're going to go with the people that are going to be out there practicing and hustling each and every day in practice.'
Head coach: Tom Calvario, 4th year
Last year: 5-3 Independent schedule
C: Quinn Kasner (So.)
G: Tony Coleman (Sr.)
G: Ben Jaindl (Sr.
T: Arnaldo Contreras (Sr.
T: Bobby Lee (Jr.)
QB: Patrick Scotto (Sr.)
RB: Isaiah Smith (Sr.)
RB: Grant Briddell (Sr.)
RB: Eric Fosbenner (Sr.)
RB: Tom Aaron
TE: Ja'ren Hampton (Jr.)
WR: Alex Williams
Fri, 09/6 at Carson Long Military Academy, 4 p.m.
Fri, 09/13 at Home vs. Tower Hill School, 3:30 p.m.
Fri, 09/20/13 vs. George School, at Upper Perkiomen High School, 7 p.m.
Fri, 09/27 at Nativity BVM HS (Pottsville), 7 p.m.
Fri, 10/4 at Pennington School, 3:30 p.m.
Sat, 10/12 vs. Academy of the New Church, 1:30 p.m.
Sat, 10/19 at MATHS Charter (Baltimore), 2 p.m.
Fri, 11/1 vs. St. Andrew's School, 3 p.m.