CHARLESTON, W.Va. - When Riverside High School's football team takes the field at 7:30 Friday evening, it will do so for the final time in a rather unforgettable regular season.
Riverside (1-8) will look to snap a three-game losing skid when it hosts Parkersburg (2-6). The Big Reds enter the game with four straight losses and no wins against West Virginia competition.
The Warriors' 2013 season unraveled early in the midst of a perfect storm consisting of an offseason coaching change, virtually no returning experience, and an unkind schedule loaded with Class AAA playoff contenders.
First-year Coach Steven Freeman took over the program knowing that the transition would be a challenge for all involved.
"We knew it was going to be tough," Freeman said. "Coming into a program, it's hard to evaluate our talent level without actually seeing them play. As much film as we watched, we only got to see three kids that played on Friday.
"From there we kind of worked with a blank slate."
The Warriors were tested early and it wasn't pretty, in dropping its first five games by a combined 313-35 score, before rebounding to beat St. Albans in early October.
Among those first five opponents were Capital, George Washington and Cabell Midland, rated 4th, 5th and 10th in Class AAA, respectively, entering last week's contests.
The Warriors have also faced No. 11 South Charleston, and No. 12 Spring Valley.
"The biggest fight for us this season is learning that football is a grind," Freeman said. "With the changes of bringing in a different mentality, different coaches, and a different way of doing things, it caused a lot of people to be interested and a lot of kids played this year.
"Then they just realized during the season that football is a grind. Whether you win, lose, whether you're in the hunt for the playoffs or you're unbeaten, you have to grind all season long and you get tired.
"If you don't really love football, it's too much like a job to be out here. A lot of our kids didn't know how it was at the varsity level."