Riverside head football coach Ralph Hensley resigned earlier this month following a 2-8 season for the Warriors.

He had led the Warriors to a 26-35 record since taking over for Dick Whitman in 2007.

“I just wasn’t getting the job done,” Hensley said. “We’ve been having a pretty tough time winning a lot of games.

“We were just not making plays. I could not get them in the weightroom (in the offseason). Maybe a younger guy with a lot of enthusiasm can do something.”

The Warriors advanced to the Class AAA playoffs in Hensley’s first year as head coach, but hadn’t made it back to the postseason since.

Prior to consolidation bringing DuPont and East Bank together to form Riverside, he coached the East Bank Pioneers to a 150-75 record in 20 seasons beginning in 1979. That stellar run included Class AA state championships in 1989, 1990, 1993 and 1996. The 1990 squad was undefeated at 13-0, while the other three titlists had just one loss each.

Hensley’s Pioneers advanced to the postseason 12 times, including 11 straight seasons from 1988 to 1998.

“I was fortunate to get the job at East Bank,” he said. “I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.

“I had a good time.”

And the state titles obviously made his stay there more pleasant. “Any time you win a state championship, it’s a thrill. I’ve been fortunate to be part of four.”

Five, actually, as Hensley entered the East Bank program as an assistant to Don Arthur in 1973, the year the Pioneers went 12-0 and claimed the school’s third triple-A crown.

He mentioned such coaches as Arthur, Joe Craffey and Rodger House who mentored him, as well as fellow coaches such as Neil Hopkins and Rick Brown with whom he worked further down the line. But, the players were the key, he stressed.

“When you have great players, it makes it easier,” said Hensley, referencing East Bank performers like Brian and Chris Massey, the latter whom went on to Marshall then enjoyed a 10-year career as a long-snapper with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, and ex-Riverside standout Raheem Waiters, now a member of the Marshall football squad. “Winning a state championship, it is something special.” Also special, he added, were “all my guys who played for me.”

While he looks forward to relaxing some, the 62-year-old Hensley — who retired as a teacher a couple of years back — hasn’t ruled out coaching somewhere again. “I’m not looking for something, but if something happens ...”

According to The Charleston Gazette, Hensley’s 176 wins leaves him five short of tying Whitman’s Kanawha Valley mark for football coaching wins.

— E-mail: skeenan@register-herald.com

 

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