Roy Williams (Courtesy photo)
It may be 544 miles from Duluth, Ga., to downtown Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium, but there was a symbolic bridge that joined the two cities on Nov. 26, 2016.
It was called Miner Pride.
Jane Greenwood, daughter of legendary Linton-Stockton High School football coach and athletic director Roy Williams, couldn’t make it to the Class A football state title game, but she was there in spirit.
She cheered from her suburban Atlanta home as the Miners defeated Pioneer 34-20, and she beamed with pride throughout the game. When it was over, she knew her dad was smiling.
“My father must be smiling in heaven that the Miners won the state championship,” Greenwood said. “How proud I am of them.”
Greenwood tried to watch the game via the internet, but couldn’t get the connection to work. A friend kept her updated throughout the game.
“I hear it was a great game,” she said.
“Linton has been trying so hard the past few years for a state championship. I admire their stick-to-itiveness. They stuck with it and won it. I’m very proud of those young men.”
Greenwood, 79, remembers how important football was back in the 1950s when she was in school. She reminisces with her classmates every year when she returns for the 1955 class reunion.
“(The stands) were packed and there was such an hysteria going on during football season … the pep rallies we had were outstanding,” Greenwood recalled. “There was and still is such a pride, not only in football, but in all activities and sports that go on in Linton.
“When you’re a Lintonian there’s just something that glows about you.”
This year’s state championship team is the focus of a keepsake edition that is inserted into today’s Greene County Daily World and will be available online later today. It includes many feature stories and photos surrounding the championship season and Linton’s football history.
Greenwood, along with her mother Charlotte, sister Ann and other relatives, were on hand in the fall of 1980 when the Linton football field was renamed Roy Williams Field. She recalls that evening as one she and her family will never forget.
“When the football field was named after my dad, he got to be alive for that honor. My sister and I, and two of my sons and my mother were there. I will never forget that night as long as I live,” Greenwood said.
“I think sometimes he was able to die because of that night … he loved Linton so much. Ask anybody who remembers my dad, he was always mowing or helping put lines down on the field. He helped Charlie Hoskins with the baseball field. His roots were in Linton.”
Former football coach and current Linton Athletic Director Charlie Karazsia remembers the field dedication well. That was his first year as head coach, and he picked up win No. 1 that night over North Central. The week before the Miners lost to North Vermillion.
“Tom Wall was a huge fan and backer of Roy Williams, in fact he spearheaded the changing of the name of the field from Oliphant Field to Roy Williams Field,” Karazsia explained. “They had a big get-together at the golf course after the game and enjoyed the evening.”
Williams was born in Linton on May 16, 1905, and was a standout football player for the Miners. He was named All-Wabash Valley and All-State as a center in 1925, and led the Miners to an undefeated season that year. He played for Coach Gerald “Two Penny” Landis.
“They were only one of four teams that were undefeated in the state that year,” Greenwood said.
Williams joined Landis’ staff in 1933, and was head coach from 1940-51. He compiled a record of 60-49-1. Williams was the athletic director from 1953 until he retired in 1971.
His teams won five conference championships.
Williams was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 1976. He passed away Feb. 6, 1984.
“He loved Linton so much,” Greenwood said.
Karazsia, who was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame on May 13, 2006 and had an 84-36 record with the Miners, knew Williams and spoke to him often.
“I knew Roy and spoke to him several times about Linton football. The one thing I remember was that we were at the old Elks Club and Roy was playing cards with a bunch of his cronies. He called me over and, in that deep, rough voice, proceeded to tell me that we don’t play anyone like they used to when he was coach. Of course he was just kidding because he was a huge fan of Linton football,” Karazsia said.
Karazsia added that Williams had a hand in the 1976 Linton team going undefeated. Karazsia was an assistant coach with that team.
“When I first came to Linton in the fall of 1976 all I heard of was the 1951 team, in fact, that team was brought back to be honored that same year during a football game for their 25th year reunion,” Karazsia said.
“One of the reasons we went undefeated that year was because of the inspirational comments we received from that team. It was a special moment for all of us.”
The 1951 season was Williams’ last as head coach.
Greenwood spent parts of her life in Gainesville, Fla., and Vermont before settling in Duluth. But she said she’ll always be a Lintonian at heart.
What does she remember about her high school days?
“How tough it was be the coach’s daughter,” Greenwood said with a chuckle. “No matter what I did, it was like being under a microscope all the time. I couldn’t do anything because it would get back to my dad.
“I was very proud to be a Miner, and I still am.”
Chris is publisher of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by email at email@example.com