Freeman is optimistic because he's witnessed a program reversal. He spent the past two seasons as an assistant at Huntington, where Coach Billy Seals went 0-10 in his first season in 2009 and guided the Highlanders to a 9-2 record and the playoffs last season.
"When he first got there that program was in shambles," Freeman said. "This isn't nearly as bad as what he had to go through."
Whitman, who finished his career with 183 wins, led Riverside to six consecutive postseasons after DuPont and East Bank closed its doors. Whitman's Warriors missed the playoffs his last two seasons and he handed the keys to the program to Hensley, who reached the postseason in his first season but never again. He finished with 178 career wins, five away from being the county's all-time leader.
Freeman, obviously, has a long way to go. He gets what's ahead.
"Football today is different. Kids are different. Sports are different. Schools are different. I used to play because you could hit people and have fun. There wasn't Twitter, video games and all that. Now you have to entice kids to play football and do a good job of recruiting your own school.
"The challenge here is to make it something different. Not DuPont. Not East Bank. Just Riverside."
Freeman got a glimpse of what's possible here when he was a player at Cabell Midland. His team was ranked No. 8 and visited secondranked Riverside on Sept. 2, 2002. The Warriors won, 1412.
The loss stung, but the images of that Friday night under the lights in eastern Kanawha County stayed with Freeman, a lifelong Cabell County resident.
"We came down the road and it was just packed," he said of the game, which reportedly drew 4,500 fans. "One lane on the bridge, people standing on the bridge to watch the game. There was no room in the stadium.
"That stuck in my mind to this day. That is what this place could be and should be. There's talent up here. There's big kids and there's tradition. But nowadays you can't just expect kids to come out and play football, you've got to go out and get them.
"I think we can turn it around."