Taylor Woods comes into the Riverside job with his eyes wide open.
Even as he becomes the 13th head coaching change for the Warriors boys basketball program since January of 2008, Woods believes he can make it work in the short term and the long term, and will rely on the eastern Kanawha County community to help get it done.
Woods replaces D.J. Johnson, who turned in his resignation earlier this year after two seasons, including a 2-20 record last winter.
“The long-term plan is to get back to where we were as a school,’’ said the 27-year-old Woods. “I believe this is one of the best basketball histories in the state of West Virginia, when you include DuPont and East Bank [the schools that merged in 1999 to form Riverside]. Not many places can match up with that, possibly Northfork.
“You’ve got The Logo [Jerry West], Jason Williams, Randy Moss, Steve McCune, Philip Godfrey. There’s some history there.’’
Recent history hasn’t been kind to the Warriors, who have posted just one winning season since 2003 and haven’t made the state tournament since 2002. But Woods, a graduate of Ravenswood and Marshall, wants to revive some of that old magic.
“My philosophy in the short term,’’ he said, “is to make something the community can get behind, continue that path that Coach Johnson and myself started. Give the community something they can really get behind.
“You hear stories about how the fans used to pack every single game, and that’s something I want the kids to experience. I was used to that in Ravenswood; we always had the crowds when we were going to the state tournament and I want this community to feel that. I want to get more people in there and get them excited about the program and move in that direction.’’
Woods spent two seasons as an assistant to Johnson at Riverside. Before that, he coached at Ceredo-Kenova Middle School.
He understands that Riverside has had a revolving-door situation with its coaches for more than a decade, but intends to change that.
“That’s a situation where I can’t necessarily speak to why they may have left,’’ Woods said. “Maybe it wasn’t the right fit, maybe something happened where they didn’t enjoy it anymore. I know a couple of coaches who have been there and spoke with a few of them, and all had good things to say about Riverside. Some of them, it just didn’t work out with their long-term goals.
“But I’ve always said I’m good wherever I’m at. Wherever God wants to send me, that’s fine. If this is where He wants me to be, then by all means I’m going to tackle it with as much ambition as I possibly can. I can’t go into it with my eyes closed and say this is a simple fix. But at the same time, it’s something for me to get excited about, and no matter what happened in the past, I want to look forward. I want to change [the path of] the program, and that’s what I’m going to try to do.’’
Riverside will compete in a shootout at George Washington on Tuesday as part of the current three-week summer practice period.