The No. 37 was prominently displayed on a board adjacent to the field Wednesday night.
It signified 37 days until the season opener. The start of school may still be more than two weeks away, but football season has begun for the Helias Crusaders.
"It's time to start," Helias coach Phil Pitts said Wednesday night after the Crusaders wrapped up a mid-week session of their camp.
A total of 98 players, including 31 freshman, are participating in this week's camp, which is being held at the rugby field in north Jefferson City due to work on the practice field at the school.
"It's been great," Pitts said. "The energy has been high and the kids are hard at work. This is really the start of the year, we're running things at a mid-season pace, we're installing things at a mid-season pace.
"We expect them to remember and know things so that when we come back to practice when school starts, we are ready to go."
The Crusaders return a total of 17 starters, including all-state selections lineman Will Fife, quarterback Wyatt Porter and tight end/defensive end Hale Hentges, from last year's squad that fell to Webb City in the Class 4 state championship game.
"It's nice to have a lot of players back with experience, with ability, players who went through pressure situations a year ago," Pitts said. "Those guys have been through a lot and they can serve as another set of eyes, along with the coaches, who can help their teammates improve."
Practice begins Monday, Aug. 12. Helias will travel Aug. 23 to St. Clair for a Jamboree, along with Rolla and Poplar Bluff. The Crusaders will open the season at home Friday, Aug. 30, against Harrisonville in what should be a clash between top-five schools in Class 4.
Helias and Harrisonville met twice last season, both in Harrisonville. The home team won 38-37 in overtime to start the 2012 season before Helias posted a 17-7 victory in the state semifinal.
The Helias coaching staff and team will be hosting a three-day camp starting Monday for youths entering grades 1-8.
The camp will be split between grades 1-4 and 5-8 and will be held at the rugby field.
The grades 1-4 camp will run from 5:30-7 p.m. each day.
"We started the first and fourth grade camp a few years ago and it is designed to help the kids fall in love with the sport of football," Pitts said. "A lot of the time, they're older when they're finally exposed to it by playing in leagues and in games. We want them to come out here and enjoy themselves."
The grades 5-8 camp will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. each day and will serve as an introduction to PAL football.
"We want them to get ready for the PAL season," Pitts said. "We're going to show them the drills, what they're going to go through in practice for the season."
No pads are required, but cleats are recommended for all campers. Registrations will be accepted the first day of camp.
For additional information, including cost, contact Pitts at 230-5483.