After running one of the most successful athletic programs in southwest Iowa, Darrell Frain returned home to Riverside to take on a new challenge this year.
The former Creston/O-M wrestling coach and football assistant took over as Riverside’s activities director and head football coach in June and has been changing the program’s culture one day at a time.
Friday night, Frain picked up his second career win as head coach and his first district win in a 30-8 win over Nodaway Valley.
The win has Riverside tied for third place in Class A District 9 at 1-1 with Southwest Valley, one game behind co-leaders AHSTW and Council Bluffs St. Albert.
“We’re still selling the kids we’ve got a chance to be in the playoffs,” Darrell said. “It’s one of those things, nobody really thinks it’s realistic outside of our group and we’re just showing up and getting better every day. And we are. If you would have seen us that first week and where we are now, the kids believe in themselves.”
Riverside controls its own destiny with three games left to play in the regular season, hosting St. Albert this week before closing the season at Earlham (2-4, 0-2) and then at home against Southwest Valley (5-1, 1-1).
“They’ve got to believe. That’s all I’ve been saying from day one,” Frain said. “When you listen to people talk in the community, they don’t give us a shot ever. Right now, that’s all I talk about – being positive, believing. We’re selling it and they’re buying it right now, so hopefully it continues to get better.”
Known for his ability to extract his athletes’ maximum potential as head coach of the Creston/O-M wrestling program, Darrell is now doing that with his athletes on the football field.
After going through what Frain called a “culture shock,” his players are buying into Darrell’s teachings and performing on the field.
“We eliminated a lot of negative influence early and the guys we have right now, they’ve bought in,” Darrell said. “They listen to every coach. They go hard all the time. By accident, we came up with the mantra, ‘We go 100 mph 100 percent of the time,’ and they’ve bought into it.”
Darrell’s son Trevor, an independent sales rep with Big Iron Auctions and assistant coach on Frain’s staff, said it was challenging, at first, to change the culture within the program.
Coming into this season, Riverside was 10-54 over the past seven seasons, including three straight 0-9 seasons, and only one postseason appearance.
“It took quite a while to get everybody to buy in,” Trevor said. “I’d go to war with this group of guys we have right now. They’re great. They’re fun to be around. They work their butts off. I couldn’t ask for anything more of them.”
Working together on the coaching staff and building the program has been an enjoyable experience so far for father and son.
Trevor, one of Creston/O-M’s all-time leaders in career tackles and a two-time first-team all-state linebacker, said he never envisioned himself coaching, but has loved his experience so far.
“I was more excited than anything that he wanted to do it with me,” Darrell said. “He brings a lot. The kids love him. He’s kind of been my secret weapon. They go to him for everything. They feed off of him when he gets excited. It’s exciting to watch him get excited for football.”
“We kind of know what each other are expecting. It’s a complete culture change for this program. We know what we expect it to be,” Trevor said. “That’s what I enjoy most is we’re trying to turn something around here that hasn’t been done in a long time.”
That Riverside is in position, with three weeks left in the season, to control its own destiny in the playoff race is a good start in the Frain era.
Darrell knows it will be a long process to build the program into what he wants it to be. In the mean time, he’s just asking that his kids play hard.
“The biggest thing from day one way back in June is we have to get more physical. It’s still evident,” Darrell said. “The teams that beat us are the more physical up front ones. Is that something we fix this year? Probably not. But offensively we’re going to spread it out and try to make big plays, and just fly around on defense and hopefully have a chance.”