You can almost smell it like a monsoon in the distance. It might not be on the horizon just yet, but there is something in the air that lets us know football season is almost upon us.

Here are eight clear signs that the Friday night lights are about to be bright again.

1. The sound of waves crashing

Summer is about over, but the heat in Arizona is here for a few more months. There have been posts all over social media by athletes out on family trips in California knowing football is about to dictate everyone’s schedule. Get in one more boogie-board session; just don’t break a wrist bracing for a fall.

2. Trips with parents to big-box stores

Teams around the Valley are heading to northern Arizona for football camp or they are already there like Desert Vista. Before they go, the players head to Wal-Mart or Target to load up on Gatorade, snacks, PowerBars and just about everything else they might want to consume in the week spent away from home.

3. Commitments come fast and furious

A lot of the highly recruited football players prefer a quiet mind to play at their highest level. They don’t want outside pressures or looming questions. It leads to a handful of commitments before the season starts. Yuma Catholic tight end Matt Pistone, a three-star recruit, is the latest to verbally commit as he picked Oregon State on Saturday to become the 11th member of the 2015 class to make a decision before the season starts. Expect a few more in the coming weeks.

4. Talk of team bonding

The trips up north, like the one Desert Vista took to Snowflake this week, is all about fostering the team dynamic. The players are worked hard during the day but mostly left alone in the late afternoon and evenings. That’s when some coaches, the Thunder’s Dan Hinds being among them, let the leaders of the team take over and create the right tone for the season.

5. Band practice

Come Week 1, that halftime routine has to be down pat. This special part of the Friday night atmosphere doesn’t happen overnight. This group is working hard to make sure they don’t lay an egg when the season gets underway. Area neighborhoods are filled with rousing renditions of the school’s fight song.

6. Water works

The groundskeepers have been taxed all summer long with keeping the field from burning out in this blazing heat and looking good for opening week. If there are any looming issues, there are only about four or five weeks to get it repaired. Most fields already have that gleaming look that let’s you know it is time to get the season started.

7. Vacation requests are being made

It is not as prominent as 2013 when it seemed like every Division I power was headed out of state, but there are still a handful of teams gearing up an out-of-state game. It starts with Brophy and Mountain Pointe headed to Las Vegas for the Sollenberger Classic on Aug. 22-23 while Desert Ridge and Chandler will also be crossing state lines for an opponent. The Jaguars are headed to Chula Vista, Calif., to face Eastlake on Aug. 29 to open the season, while Chandler will have a few games under its belt before heading to Highlands Ranch, Colo., to take on Valor Christian on Sept. 12.

8. Mandatory Monday

Mountain Pointe’s early start to the season gives it a jump on most of the state, as the Pride and Brophy open up a week before anyone else. They begin four weeks of practice on Monday. They get a chance to work on things, find a rhythm and get ready for a game against Reed of Sparks, Nev., that is going to get national attention. Desert Vista starts camp Aug. 4 when the Thunder begin preparation for their 10-week journey, which starts with Basha on Aug. 29 at home.

So there are the very keen clues that the football season is within reach. Make no mistake; the countdown has begun. And just like a monsoon, it will wreak havoc and be gone before we know it.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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