SPRINGFIELD, Mo–The 2018 Missouri high school football season will kick off in three weeks.

Monday was the first day that coaches were allowed to have their full squad on the practice field.   

The players were only allowed to be in shorts and helmets, they’ll move into full pads later this week.

One big change for 2018 involves conference realignment.

The Central Ozark Conference shrunk to nine members.

Springfield Catholic and a number of the old COC Small are moving into the new Big Eight conference.    

It all makes for an exciting new season.

“It means that we have to step up because our competition is going to be tougher.  We’re going to be playing some Big Eight schools that are very good in football.  They’re very physical and we know we have our hands full.  We have to get ready to play.  We start off the season with two of the best in the Big Eight this year in Seneca and Cassville.  We have to get ourselves ready for the opening of the season.  And get ready to go.  It’s kind of exciting to get everything started this morning.  Getting all our kids together from the summer.  They’ve been here, there and everywhere,” said Irish coach Steve Hancock.