Knights open season at Riverside
HUNTINGTON -- Some high school football teams simply couldn't wait until Friday to get started with the season.
Consider that the case with Cabell Midland, who travels to Riverside to take on the Warriors at 7:30 p.m., Thursday.
The Knights are looking to have a solid start and build off the momentum of a 13-1 season in 2012 when they advanced to the Class AAA championship game for the first time in school history.
"They've been working hard since January, so it's great to get out there," said Cabell Midland head coach Luke Salmons. "It's time to play. Practice is practice and they are excited and I'm sure Riverside will be also. It's exciting for everybody. Football's such a great sport and that's why you put in the time."
Cabell Midland graduated a pair of the state's top running backs in David Gaydosz and Lowell Farley, but have several players who can step in.
Most notably, running backs Donte Hendricks and Teran Barnitz will be asked to step up -- Hendricks coming to Cabell Midland from Huntington High and Barnitz having been at Point Pleasant last season.
Both possess big-play ability, along with Cabell Midland's Kasey Thomas and Alex Childers, who also are playmakers in the Knights' arsenal.
Salmons said the team has improved considerably since the start of camp, but the guys in front of those backs -- the offensive line -- are the ones who have taken the next step.
"Offensive line might end up being better than last year and the running backs are getting better each week," Salmons said. "They haven't been content. They are trying to get better every day. That's our mindset. We have to get better each week."
If anyone is familiar with Hendricks' running style it is Riverside coach Steven Freeman, who will be coaching in his first game and takes the reigns from Ralph Hensley.
Freeman spent the past two seasons as an assistant at Huntington High and previously had also been an assistant at Cabell Midland, meaning the game will take on lots of importance for him.
"They are going to be well-prepared to play us," Salmons said. "We have to take care of the ball and be fundamental."
Salmons said Riverside is operating out of the pro-style offense a lot and the team has some weapons who can aid Freeman in his first year as the Warriors' head coach.
Two players that Salmons referred to were No. 1 (Will Jackson) and No. 7 (Dajon Watkins) -- those named according to the Warriors' roster on MaxPreps.com.
"They have some talented kids," Salmons said. "They are athletic and No. 1 is a really good player. So is No. 7. We have to take care of the fundamentals and make sure we don't get ourselves in trouble."