CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two Kanawha County high school football teams will be kicking off new eras this fall.
Donnie Mays was approved as football coach at South Charleston and Steven Freeman as coach at Riverside during a Wednesday meeting of the Kanawha County School board in Charleston.
Earlier this month, Mays and Freeman were recommended by their respective school administrations to take over for a pair of coaches who stepped down in November - John Messinger at South Charleston and Ralph Hensley at Riverside.
Mays and Freeman have some big shoes to fill, as the coaches they're replacing each won multiple state titles - Messinger a pair of AAA crowns at SC and Hensley four AA championships at East Bank.
"We definitely have some parts to work with,'' Mays said, "and Coach Mess did a great job. His record proves it - 62-21, two state titles, two conference championships.
"The fortunate thing for me is a lot of the staff said they would stay, and we were all part of that, too. A lot of things will stay the same, but trying to outdo Coach Mess is not my goal. I can only control what we do. I do like the challenge, and I look forward to it.''
The 33-year-old Mays said he hopes to retain the entire Black Eagles coaching staff from last year, minus Messinger, and add a few new faces.
"If something's not broken, you don't try to fix it,'' Mays said. "We'll do a lot of the same things. As far as the offseason conditioning program, it will continue. It's a little different now because [Messinger's] not going to be there. As far as the season goes, he won't be there to give his pregame talks to the kids. But everything else will be pretty much the same.''
Mays, a 1998 Herbert Hoover graduate, received his undergraduate degree from West Virginia State and his masters from West Virginia University.
He arrived at South Charleston when Messinger took over as head coach in 2006, serving as the program's offensive line coach for two seasons. The next five years, he was elevated to offensive coordinator and directed one of the state's most potent attacks. The Black Eagles won back-to-back Class AAA championships in 2008-09.
Meanwhile, the 26-year-old Freeman, a Cabell Midland and Marshall graduate, has been serving as an assistant coach at Huntington High for two years on the staff of Billy Seals. The Highlanders reached the AAA playoffs each of the past two seasons.