CHARLESTON, W.Va. - As Capital High School's football team filed out of the locker rooms and onto Laidley Field, they passed two men who play an important role in their athletic lives.
One was their head coach, Jon Carpenter.
The other was Tony Harris, whose work with the team is less high profile but, from the looks of things, still appreciated. The boys nodded in his direction or nudged him on their way by, and some shouted greetings.
"I get to know them all pretty well," Harris said.
Harris is at every game Capital's football team plays and at practice every day. He loads and unloads equipment and generally helps out wherever he's needed. He runs through a checklist of tasks before the team ever hits the field. Carpenter calls him the "Director of Football Operations."
"He practically runs things," Carpenter said.
Officially, there's a substantial framework holding up most high school football teams - coaches, assistant coaches, athletic trainers who are employed by the school system. But many teams also are graced with a less official presence, those people who are there on their own time for love of the game and the team alone.
Harris has been doing this for decades, since he was a freshman at the old Charleston High School in 1981, before it merged with Stonewall Jackson to become Capital High. That's when he started hanging around football practices - he liked the sport and liked being around it - and the coach let him volunteer to help out and travel with the team.
He graduated in 1984 but never stopped coming to practices. Since then, he's seen the team through four head coaches, four state championships and countless student athletes. He's the institutional memory of the team.
"It's a lot of work," he said. "But it's just a joy being around the kids, around the coaching staff."
Carpenter sees Harris as an integral part of the team - he can't imagine doing his job without him.
"When you become head coach, you realize it's probably the loneliest job in the school system," Carpenter said. "He's worth his weight in gold because it doesn't matter if you go 0 and 10 or 10 and 0, he's here.
"He's like a security blanket; he's here for us no matter what."
At St. Albans High School, there's Alison Dalton, a junior and the team manager for the football team.