You could say Caleb Lisbon already was prepared for the state-mandated heat acclimatization period, the week before training camp when teams adjust to summer conditions.
The rising junior running back and defensive back at Penn-Trafford spent many sultry summer days working on a farm in Harrison City.
“I cleaned (chicken coops) and fed horses and pigs,” Lisbon said. “You know, the grunt work. Things can get pretty gross. One time a horse got out, and I had to chase him down.”
The horse didn’t get very far. Lisbon used that speed of his to track down the animal.
“I didn’t know what to do after that but we got it,” he said.
His instincts told him to tackle low, but he just patted and calmed the pony, then called the owner over to bring peace to the situation.
Opponents of Penn-Trafford have had a tough time chasing down Lisbon. He ran for 814 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, sharing carries with tailback John Gay IV. With Gay now at Air Force, Lisbon’s role will expand. His importance can’t be overstated, but neither can his potential.
He’s Penn-Trafford’s horse.
“I have confidence I can be that player because the coaches have confidence in me,” Lisbon said. “I want to help my team win, that’s the biggest thing.”
Lisbon helped the Warriors reach the WPIAL Class 5A championship game last season.
Warriors coach John Ruane said Lisbon unquestionably is a Division I prospect.
The shifty back also covers plenty of ground as a safety. He makes his mark, though, as a big-play tailback, often bursting through holes or bouncing outside for big chunks of yardage.
Last year, at times it seemed the only thing that could slow down Lisbon was the end zone; more like the finish line for a player who seems like he’s out to win a race every time he touches the ball.
“The best attribute Caleb has is his vision,” Ruane said. “He is a great one-cut runner; he sees a hole, plants a foot in the ground and he’s into the clear.”
Penn-Trafford is a zone-read team, which affords Lisbon opportunities to scope out his running lanes - the alternative being a power, run-right-at-you style which teammates also say he can handle.
“I have been playing running back since I was 7 years old,” Lisbon said. “I have just tried to be a better runner and work on my vision. We have had so many good players come through the program. I just want to be able to put my name up with them.
“It makes a difference to lose a running back like (Gay), but we have some other guys ready to step in like Sam Fanelli.”
Lisbon, who said he looked up to former Warriors running back Manny Simpson as a youngster, has interest from several Division I schools, including Fordham, Army West Point, Colgate and Villanova.
“He has a pretty high ceiling,” Ruane said. “And he works really hard. He’s just like his brother (Jonah). It’s a full sprint every time, even in practice.”
Jonah Lisbon played a year at Robert Morris before joining the Navy.