— BCR photo/Kevin Hieronymus

PRINCETON — A steady drizzle greeted the Princeton football players as they walked out to the practice field at Little Siberia Monday for the first practice of the 2019 season. It did little to dampen their spirits, or those of head coach Ryan Pearson, however.

"Absolutely not. If we have an opportunity to get outside, we're going to get outside. We're going to have to play in the elements, and anytime we get a chance to practice in them, we're going to do the same thing," Pearson said.

Pearson had contingency plans in place to move practice to Prouty Gym should there be lightning, and the kids were to bring their tennis shoes for such a move indoors.

"We're going to get everything in we wanted to today," he said.

Pearson, who led the Tigers to the playoffs last year in his second year as head coach, was pleased with the energy the kids brought to the first practice.

"It's like Christmas for me," he said. "These kids are coming off two weeks off. We let them go be kids — swim, fish, whatever they wanted to. We really think it allows our kids to come in fresh and rejuvenated and ready to go."

Before they started their first drills, Pearson reminded his team that expectations are high on them this season, coming off last year's Three Rivers Mississippi Conference championship, 7-4 record and playoffs appearance, but that it was up to them to make it happen.

A group of 55 players reported for the first practice. Pearson said while "It's not where we want to be, but there were only 43 my first year, so it's a lot better than it was."

• Notes: Former longtime PHS assistant coach Charlie Waca, who always knows when the first day for football practice is, but once didn't know when his wedding anniversary was, came to check out Monday's practice. ... The Tiger staff gained new assistant Tyler Nichols, who was a head coach at Kewanee. It also includes former PHS head coach Dave Moore, who also was formerly a head coach at Bureau Valley.