CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Steve Freeman, an assistant on the staff at Huntington High School, will be recommended as the next football coach at Riverside, the Gazette has learned.
He was selected from a field of eight applicants who were interviewed last week by a five-person committee representing Riverside High School, led by Principal Valery Harper.
The next and final hurdle for Freeman's hiring will come during a Dec. 20 meeting of the Kanawha County School board.
Freeman is targeted to replace Ralph Hensley, who stepped down last month after six seasons. Freeman met Hensley and some other team members Sunday night during a banquet at the school.
Some of the other candidates interviewed included current Warriors assistant coaches Nate Johnson and Jamie McDonough, as well as Jay Phares, the defensive coordinator at Patrick Henry (Va).
When reached by the Gazette Sunday night, both Freeman and Harper declined to talk about the search committee's recommendation. Johnson, a former Riverside athlete, was disappointed in the committee's decision, but backed Freeman.
"I wish him the best of luck,'' Johnson said. "He inherits a great team with some great athletes.
"It's disappointing, but it wasn't my time. I'll have to re-evaluate where I am in my career. I don't have any immediate plans.''
Candidates recommended by county school administrators are usually ratified, but in a well-known instance in 2007, school board members rejected the recommendation of Tommy Canterbury as football coach by the Riverside administration, which led to the eventual hiring of Hensley.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.