AUSTIN (KXAN) — High school football is in full swing as thousands of players from around Central Texas took the field this week.

“You just wake up and you can feel it in the air,” said Anderson Football Coach, Donald Hatcher.

There’s just something special about high school football in Texas, he said.

“We are excited we are ready to go,” said Austin High football Coach Bernard Riley.

Coaches and players have been preparing for this season since football ended last year.

“All the workouts, all the film sessions, they all led to this,” said Ed Small, a receiver at Anderson High School.

While film sessions are inside, a lot of the hard work involves practicing outside, which can be pretty tiring in the Texas heat.

“You definitely get worn out a lot faster,” said Wilder Davenpot, quarterback for Austin High School.

If it seems high school football is starting earlier than usual, that’s because it is. Since Christmas falls on a Monday, the UIL is staging the state championship games the week of Dec. 13-16 so teams aren’t playing the weekend before the holiday. Because of that and the length of the postseason, the games started Aug. 24, the earliest in nearly 50 years.

Hutto High School head coach Will Compton said it’s important to keep an eye on all his players and make sure they are getting plenty of water.

“Coaches have to be on the lookout for those symptoms of heat-related illness,” he said.

Some kickoffs have been moved back to later in the evening to help with the heat. Many schools are also taking advantage of cooler temperatures in the morning for practice as well.

“We go in the mornings. We practice from 6:45 to 8:45 so we miss a lot of the heat,” said Coach Hatcher.

Making sure players are safe is the top priority, but even this Texas heat can’t stop the excitement around high school football returning.

“Texas football is back!” Hatcher said.

Schools are required by UIL to have Emergency Action Plans in place. The required emergency action plans cover a variety of potential emergency situations, including heat-related illness.

UIL has posted information about avoiding heat-related illness on its website.