It's just after 1 p.m. on Gameday Eve, and firstyear Riverside Coach Steven Freeman is in his Fieldhouse office. Kickoff is in 30 hours.
A stack of papers with a 30point pre-game script sits to the left of his computer. Two hundred helmet decals are strewn across the floor. He discusses the placement of the logo on the Warriors' new black matte-finish helmets with team captains and confirms the pre-game intro music. "This is stuff you don't learn as an assistant," the 26-year-old Freeman said Wednesday afternoon before he lost his coaching debut to his alma mater Cabell Midland on Riverside's campus Thursday night.
"You're not worried about purchasing, you're not worried about organizing team meals, you're not worried about deciding what time to leave, how much money we have, what's our budget?"
Instead, on the day before the Marshall University graduate and former assistant at Midland and Huntington led Riverside in its season opener, Freeman is worried about a brief walkthrough under the sweltering sun. The X's and O's aren't of concern at this point; he simply wants to make sure his players know how to make it through 90 minutes of pre-game warmups without mass confusion.
Freeman inherited a program with just three players who had significant game experience, so even studying last year's film was a fruitless endeavor.
He started from scratch, overhauled the offseason conditioning program, the weight program and the practice regime.
The Warriors were 2-8 last season and, if Thursday's opener is a harbinger for the next nine games, seem headed for a sixth consecutive season without a playoff appearance.
Freeman, however, is not discouraged. He is outgoing and energetic about his craft. He is aware of the success of his predecessors, Dick Whitman and Ralph Hensley, who are the two winningest coaches in county history and brought home a combined six state championships before their schools consolidated to create Riverside in 1999.
Freeman also grasps the challenges ahead. East Bank won its final state championship in 1996, three years after DuPont won back-to-back titles with Randy Moss.
Riverside doesn't have a single player who was alive to watch Moss' man-against-boys football escapades two decades ago. They'd have to settle for grainy YouTube highlights to learn what football used to be like on this end of the county.
"I think the biggest challenge here right now is this area has a rich football tradition, but these kids have not had very successful football teams," Freeman said. "We're trying to build a new foundation; something new that wasn't done here before."