SPRING VALLEY — So it rained on the first day of football practice.

No mind to the Hall Red Devils, they were just glad to be on the field.

Besides, they were looking ahead, not up.

"It's nice to get back out here, that's for sure," Hall head coach Randy Tieman said. "The kids were ready."

Tieman, in his eighth year as Red Devil skipper (his 2018 team was 7-4 and 5-1 with two playoff wins), sized up his squad for the 2019 campaign.

"We have about 40 today, a bit low on the freshman and sophomore side," he said. "We're a bit thin in experience on the varsity side, since we lost a lot of skilled players from last year.

"But we had some kids step up over the summer. They've been in the weight room and done what they're supposed to do, so hopefully it works out for them."

One of the things most consistent in the Hall football program is the belief that any player can step up at any time to make a difference in the team's fortunes.

"And these seniors really have, they've been a great group so far with leadership and getting things done," Tieman said. "So we're happy with that. They should be ready Aug. 30."

Tieman offered one player as an example.

"Austin Heinecke (a senior) is above expectations. He played defense last year but this year he's looking good on offense, catching and running the ball well," Tieman said.

"We expected to want to use him. But he's made it easy for us, stepped up big time as a senior."

Looking at the season ahead, which begins when the Red Devils host Newman Central Catholic on Aug. 30, the Hall head coach picked one opponent in particular to pay attention to.

"Princeton should be the team to beat this year, as far as we think," Tieman said. "But then Monmouth (Monmouth-Roseville) should be good again. A lot of the teams in the conference, Sherrard, Erie and Kewanee, will be up there, so it should be interesting.

"One thing about this conference, you've got to play every week or someone will come and knock you off."