CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Donnie Mays' patience has paid off, as the architect behind South Charleston's offense that blazed its way to two Class AAA state championships has been rewarded with the position of Black Eagles head coach.
Mays, who served under former Coach John Messinger from 2006-2012, was officially named coach Thursday night at the Kanawha County Board of Education meeting. He had previously been recommended for the post by SC Principal Mike Arbogast.
Steve Freeman, who most recently served as an assistant coach at Huntington High School, was named as the new head coach at Riverside at the meeting. Freeman takes over for Ralph Hensley, who retired following the Warriors' 2-8 finish to the 2012 season.
Riverside Principal Valarie Harper recommended Freeman for the post, which was met with some resistance Thursday by board member Pete Thaw, who complained about Freeman not being a candidate from Kanawha County.
Harper said she would "put my life on it," that Freeman was the best candidate for the position, and the board approved her recommendation.
Mays was the Black Eagles' offensive line coach in 2006 and 2007, then took over as offensive coordinator in 2008. That year, SC won the first of consecutive Class AAA titles.
"It's been a long process just working my way up to get the possibility to be a head coach," Mays said Thursday. "Honestly, I'm extremely happy to get that opportunity at South Charleston High School.
"The tough thing is that Coach Messinger's record is hard to live up to. The two state titles speak for themselves as to how successful he was."
Messinger resigned in November after the Black Eagles went 6-4 but missed the Class AAA playoffs for the second year in a row. He compiled a 62-21 record at South Charleston, which was his only career head coaching job.
As the coach who designed the offense for 2009 Kennedy Award-winning quarterback Tyler Harris, 2012 second-team All-Conference USA wide receiver Aaron Dobson, current Charlotte basketball starter Pierria Henry and current Marshall defensive tackle Blake Brooks, Mays said there might be more changes on the offensive side of the ball than on defense in 2013.
"I think we're going to get back to a little more of a running game," he said. "Last year, we didn't have a running back coach or offensive line coach, so my goal is to hire coaches in those positions so we can have a whole staff and hopefully get back to where we were before the last two seasons."