River’s move to Magnolia went smoothly

HANNIBAL – School officially got under way amid construction, tore up parking lots and close quarters at River High School Monday.

The Pilots’ football season began impressively last Friday as they began the 2012 season at their home away from home across the river in New Martinsville at Magnolia’s Alumni Field.

And according to Pilots’ Athletic Director Tom Tisher and Head Coach Mike Flannery, the transition was seamless.

Tisher was highly complimentary of the Magnolia staff, which was of great help with any issue that might have popped up Friday, and there were a few minor adjustments on the fly.

“Brian Castilow, Kathi Schmalz and Robb Bauer were super to us and Ed Trifinoff, our principal, deserves a lot of credit, too for everything he did to help make sure this went as smoothly as it did,” Tisher said. “On top of that, all of their support people went out of their way to help us. Magnolia opened its arms to us and welcomed us over here.”

In June, New Martinsville was hit hard by a storm, which knocked out power, in the community, for several days and destroyed the relatively new press box at Alumni Field.

While an insurance claim has been made, the press box wasn’t up in time for Friday and, according to Tisher, it won’t be ready when the Blue Eagles make their home debut this week.

The Pilots’ officials arrived at the field Friday afternoon and realized there was no public address system in place.

“We had to get the PA system and ‘Sounds Incredible’ here in New Martinsville donated the use of that system. Then we set up and used a scissor lift for our announcer and scoreboard operator,” Tisher said. “As of (Thursday), the scoreboard wasn’t working, but it all got done.”

Magnolia officials spent a lot of time observing how the logistics of everything worked because the Blue Eagles host Williamstown this week and the press box isn’t expected to be up in time for Friday’s kickoff.

“This was a dry run for Magnolia,” Tisher said. “They wanted to see how things would go and they expect to have everything up for the third week when they play Tyler.”

Because of the lack of a press box, the River coaches were all on the field.

“There were no distractions whatsoever about playing here,” Flannery said after the game. “The administration (at Magnolia) and Coach (Mark) Batton just opened up everything for us and we appreciate that. We would have done the same thing for them and that’s the way it should be.”

They had no staff member wearing a headset, while Fort Frye had two coaches standing on the top row of its bleachers.

“We could have gone up in a lift, but Coach Flannery didn’t think it was fair for us to do that,” Tisher said. “Fort Frye cooperated with us through everything.”

The River High support groups, including the band parents and cheering parents, still operated the concession stands. According to Tisher, Magnolia’s support groups purchased the merchandise that was sold and then took a percentage of the total sales.

“That’s the same deal they have with the youth football organization here,” Tisher said. “I don’t want to say what the numbers are, but it worked out really well.”

On top of those issues, the Pilots’ new uniforms didn’t arrive in time for the season opener.

“These kids have had to overcome an awful lot,” Tisher said.

The Pilots visit Newcomerstown this week and at Monroe Central in week three. They return to Alumni Field on Sept. 14, but they’ll be wearing their road whites as they play Magnolia.

“We’ve got some trips ahead of us, which will test our character,” Flannery said.