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ENOLA >> Ever since the spring, Chambersburg football coach Mark Saunders has been methodically calculating how many hours are needed before football season begins.

He's added up hours spent in the weight room, number of days at 7-on-7 tournaments and time spent at camp.

There is a simple reason the Trojan leader has been so meticulous this offseason.

Chambersburg, along with Shippensburg and Waynesboro, begin school on Aug. 19 — just two days after the official start of fall practices under the PIAA rules.

"From the first time that I got wind of the schedule being moved up, I tried to go back and recalculate time and days of what I thought we would need," Saunders said. "It's been a difficult balance of getting in vacation time and other sports kids are playing, but we basically just moved everything a week forward."

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A pair of Franklin County teams headed to the Patriot-News headquarters for the Mid Penn Conference Media Day on Tuesday to gear up for the upcoming season.

"For me, this is my fourth year in, and this is the first year that we've had a scrimmage during school," said Andy Stoner, the coach at James Buchanan, which begins on Aug. 24, the same day as Greencastle-Antrim. "Nowadays, I don't even know what people are going to be able to call camp. They used to give you two weeks to run camp while you had your scrimmages."

Chambersburg receiver Sam Blevins said, "Since we don't have double days, that will hurt us because we don't have that practice time. But we just have to push ourselves even harder. We're going to put in work with the time that we do have, and we're still going to push each other as hard as we can."

This year, the PIAA will allow teams to start non-contact practices up to five days ahead of the start date for heat acclimation. The past two years, that period has been only three days. The extension should benefit those area teams whose school years start early.

"You can still do only three days, but why not take it?" Saunders said. "We want reps on the field and time that we can work together as a cohesive unit. We're going from 2:30 to 5:30, which is the hottest part of the day."

The Rockets know how important heat acclimation has been around the state, and how important it will be in terms of extra practice time.

"We pretty much treat it like spring football, and it's going to give us 10 extra hours of practices," Stoner said. "In the past, we would have people show up in August who aren't prepared, so you want to take the safest route. Colleges do it, the NFL does it, so now we're doing heat acclimation as well. But if you're a good high school program, you're doing this stuff throughout the summer anyway."

Pressure to win

Both the Trojans and JB have an air of needing a big season, but for very different reasons.

The Rockets, after going 0-10 in 2012, have been on an upward trend the past two years. They were 4-6 in 2013 and 3-7 in 2014, but it's clear that they have been getting better. Although they still suffered losing records, they were competitive in nearly every game.

"Every year is kind of a must-win year," Stoner said. "The thing that we still see is, even though we've had this upward trend, we're still only going to have 35 guys on our football team. I'm not going to put one season as make-or-break, but we want to get guys out there that feed into our core values, which are commitment, being fearless and having enthusiasm."

Running back Seth Carbaugh said even though there is a goal of being above .500, he thinks the Rockets have turned a corner regardless.

"I feel like there is that pressure there to win, but I think more people are supportive now regardless of what the outcome is," Carbaugh said. "Before, everyone just kind of automatically threw a result in their head. But now people are coming out and watching us; they're curious to see what happens in a game."

Rockets lineman Dustin Walker said: "It's been great to be a part of it and seeing this program grow, but records don't really mean much to me. I want to go out there and have the other team know that they played someone; I don't want people walking all over us."

Chambersburg, on the other hand, suffered a 1-9 record last year, which followed some controversy surrounding coach Saunders. But now, he says all of that has changed.

"The combination of having such a strong group graduate (from the 2013 team) and the negativity, which really took a toll on our program, had a lot to do with it," Saunders said. "You never want to use things as an excuse, but this program had the life sucked out of it even before the season.

"(Athletic director) Jeremy (Flores) came in and was a huge game-changer in terms of coming up with a process of the way things need to be done. Before that, it was like a free-for-all, but it's different now. Our team is lot closer now, and that trust is there between coaches and players."

So for now, the Trojans are putting 2014 behind them, for the most part.

"We kind of have forgotten about it, but we also haven't," Blevins said. "We actually bring up last season a lot, but we use it as motivation for this year. It's not that we have to win, but it's what we're striving for to get back on track."

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