PRINCETON, KY -- For the Caldwell County players and coaches, their first day back on the field since the passing of head coach David Barnes was tough.

However, they knew that is where he would want them to be.

"He would want us to come out here even if it is 100 degrees, busting our butts, and getting better," said junior quarterback Russ Beshear.

"He loved football more than anything," said senior Luke Stallins. "That is what he wants, us to get ready and we are going to play for him."

It was also the first time back on the field for coach Barnes's son Will, who is an assistant coach for the Tigers.

"I debated on whether I would come out here," He said. "But mom looked at me and said he would want you to be with those boys, being with the team."

And it is that team, that meant so much to coach Barnes.

"He loved being with kids, he loved being a positive influence and trying to help them become a better version of themselves," Will said.

That feeling was mutual.

"He was a mentor, a father figure to all of us," said Stallins. "He was always there for us."

"Football was everything to him," senior Ben Holt said. "We meant everything to him and he meant everything to us."

Which is why getting ready for this week is so important, because it was for coach Barnes.

"This was his dream job," said Will. "When he said that, he meant it and that is why he kept doing it."

The Tigers will open up the season at home on Friday night against Christian County.