BELLE, W.Va. — One of the legends in West Virginia coaching has died. Dick Whitman who formerly coached football at Dupont and Riverside High Schools died Sunday after a lengthy illness.
Whitman was the winningest coach in Kanawha County history. During 16 seasons at Dupont and eight at Riverside he amassed a record of 181 wins, 96 losses, and one tie. He coached DuPont to back to back state championships in 1992 and ’93. Among his former players Randy Moss and Bobbie Howard who both made it to the NFL.
“He put a lot of effort into it. He didn’t panic and he knew the game,” said longtime friend Ralph Hensley who coached with and against Whitman over the years. “He was a really good, hard-nosed guy. A lot of times you never knew he was around because he wasn’t loud and he didn’t scream and yell at everybody. It just seemed like he knew what you had to do in order to win.”
Hensley was the longtime coach at East Bank High School and faced Whitman’s DuPont Panthers for many years across the field. When the two schools consolidated to form Riverside High School, both applied for the head coaching job.
“I was a little upset that he got it and I didn’t, but I told him when he got the job I’d do anything he wanted me to do. He told me he wanted me to be offensive coordinator,” Hensley recalled. “He treated me fair, he did everything right and I was real appreciative of everything he did.”
Whitman retired in 2006. In recent months he’d been in failing health. Hensley said over time the two became good friends.
“When he was in the hospital about two months ago, I went down and visited with him,” Hensley said. “We talked about the old times and joked and kidded a little bit, but you could tell he didn’t feel real good.”
Whitman finished with the most wins of any coach in Kanawha County high school football history. He had five more than Hensley.
Whitman was 69.