For each of the past four seasons, Eastchester's football team has been put at a disadvantage by one game, an injury or a series of downs that has eventually cost it a playoff spot.
The usual Class A opponents remain as obstacles on the Eagles' 2012 schedule, but with more focused week-to-week preparations and an infusion of athleticism from last year's junior varsity , Eastchester is looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
"There can't be mental lapses," Eastchester head coach Fred DiCarlo said. "It can't be Week Seven where you've got to win the game. It starts with Week One."
For some veteran Eagles, it started during spring track. Both senior halfback Jack Calby and senior quarterback Greg DiCarlo led some teammates to find a way to improve their speed and conditioning.
"I ran track with a couple of my football players," Calby said. "Got them out. (We have been) training all summer long."
Calby said up-and-coming players such as halfback Mike Marsico and outside linebacker Wayne Hoffman are capable of making an impact.
If the younger players' play at Champions Camp is any indication, Eastchester will be more athletic and versatile this season.
"A lot of the younger kids are going to step up," Greg DiCarlo said. "Nobody has a guaranteed spot.
"(Summer training) gives a gauge of where everybody's at, who can play, and what's going to come this season."
The Eagles will continue to run the option, but Coach DiCarlo said that with more players capable of playing the skill positions, the offense should be able to sustain efficient offensive play throughout games.
"We're very interchangeable," DiCarlo said. "You don't have to be that person to be the split end, because when we're passing, it could be any of our split ends. So it's a good position to be where we can try to be fresh and interchangeable with each other."
DiCarlo said Week Two against Poughkeepsie would be an important test, but he made it clear his team was honed in on its opening game with Byram Hills Sept. 7.
It's part of the theme at Champions Camp for Eastchester: every game, and every series of downs, matter.
"Last year, we overlooked Scarsdale and ended up losing on special teams," Calby said. "So this year we're focusing on all three aspects of the game to make sure we win every game and win every play."