They're not part of a league, and they don't have a post-season format to pursue.
In that vein, Tom Calvario and his coaching staff have had to find other goals for the Perkiomen School football program to pursue each fall. And they're doing so ... not tangible items like trophies and medals, but intangibles the players can call on long after their playing days are over.
"Facing the challenges of life later on ... that's the approach we're taking,' Calvario said. "The lessons you learn on the field will be valuable to you off the field.'
There will be lessons and challenges aplenty for the Panthers this fall.
Among them is the task of starting their independent schedule with just two weeks' preparation — a contrast to other area programs, who already have been in action twice as long. Sparse numbers will be a two-sided issue: Perkiomen has just 29 players out for the team, with only eight of them returning starters.
'In a boarding school setting like this,' Calvario said, "you have to play the hand you're dealt. We're going back and saying we're teaching the sport of football.
"Hopefully we'll enjoy it ... as a teaching tool, to help get better prepared.'
Calvario also estimated only about two-thirds of the players have one year's experience at this level.
"We're working on the basic fundamentals,' he said. "We believe we have to first crawl, then walk, then run. But we have a short window open for it.
"We're teaching the basics, I think, a little more than we usually do. We're hoping to have fun, and have that translate into winning games.'
As a result of the short numbers and relative inexperience, Perkiomen's core players will figure to play both sides of the ball. And with only three of them seniors, leadership across the board will be a much-needed aspect of the team's makeup.
"The overall returners all need to be leaders,' Calvario said. "The whole team has to come together as one unit.'
One of the more versatile returnees figures to be sophomore Josh Cruz, who is listed as a quarterback, running back and defensive back. Those same three positions are the job description for junior Brett Ciacari, with classmate David Juechter designated as a running back/tight end/linebacker.
"We're a work in progress,' Calvario said. "Most likely, we'll have players alternating positions.'
Among the other returning starters, senior Tom Aaron is listed at running back and defensive end while classmate Moritz Schellenberg is at tight and defensive ends. Juniors Isiah Armstrong (offensive and defensive lines), Dan Serraoli (offensive line, linebacker), Ja-Ren Hampton (tight and defensive ends), Quinn Kasner (offensive and defensive lines) and Kristian Olsen (kicker, punter) are also back vying to return to the varsity mix on both sides of the ball.
The Perkiomen coaching staff is also looking at a handful of other promising players: Senior Jason Chen (offensive and defensive lines), juniors Jack Flynn (offensive and defensive lines) and Noah Ruff-Pringle (running back, linebacker) and sophomore Colin Buckwalter (running back, linebacker).
"We're in the same position we always are,' Calvario said. "With the makeup of a boarding school, it's always going to be a challenge.'
The Panthers kick the season into gear today by hosting Carson Long at 4 p.m. Their other home games will be against Nativity BVM (Sept. 27), Pennington School (Oct. 2) and Cardinal McCarrick (Oct. 18); on the road, they will face Tower Hill (Sept. 12), George School (Sept. 19), Academy of the New Church (Oct. 11) and St. Andrew's (Oct. 31).
"All our games will be challenges,' Calvario said. "But I have to say the better schools we'll be playing are Tower Hill, Academy of the New Church, Pennington and Nativity BVM. St. Andrew's comes with a lot of winning tradition, too.
"They'll all be big challenges, that I know.'
Head coach: Tom Calvario, 5th season.
Last year: 4-4 independent schedule.
Tom Aaron, Sr. RB/DE
Moritz Schellenberg, Sr. TE/DE
Isiah Armstrong, Jr. OL/DL
Ja-Ren Hampton, Jr. TE/DE
Quinn Kasner, Jr. OL/DL
Kristian Olsen, Jr. K/P
Dan Serraoli, Jr. OL/LB
Josh Cruz, So. QB/RB/DB
Others To Watch
Jason Chen, Sr. OL/DL
Brent Ciacari, Jr. QB/RB/DB
Jack Flynn, Jr. OL/DL
David Juechter, Jr. RB/TE/LB
Noah Ruff-Pringle, Jr. RB/LB
Colin Buckwalter, So. RB/LB
Friday, 9/5, vs. Carson Long, 4 p.m.
Friday, 9/12, at Tower Hill School, 7 p.m.
Friday, 9/19, at George School, 7 p.m.
Saturday, 9/27, vs. Nativity BVM, 1 p.m.
Thursday, 10/2, vs. Pennington School, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, 10/11, at Academy of New Church, 3:45 p.m.
Saturday, 10/18, vs. Cardinal McCarrick, 2 p.m.
Friday, 10/31, at St. Andrew's, 3:30 p.m.
Follow Jeff Stover on Twitter at @MercuryXStover.
Follow the Perkiomen School football program during the season on Twitter at @perkfootball.