Coming home is attractive for many people.
Chris Liner, who is leaving Laurens District High School after six years as head football coach, is from Greenwood. He grew up there and played for the Eagles. Now he will coach them.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” he said Friday. “I honestly didn’t realize how hard it would be.”
Liner’s final season in Laurens was his best. The Raiders went 9-2, won Region 1-5A and a first-round playoff game and captured a string of exciting region games over Greenwood, Westside, defending upper-state champion Hanna and, in a particularly memorable evening, Woodmont.
On one hand, Greenwood is a job Liner always knew he’d have to take, if offered. He interviewed on Monday and came to terms on Wednesday night. He told his players at LDHS of his decision on Friday morning.
“They have been awesome in just about every way,” he said. “My family loves it here, and, really, from the administration down to the people who keep the locker rooms clean, everybody has been good and kind and easy to get along with. A situation like that is really rare right now, and it’s tough to walk away from it. By far, it’s the toughest decision I’ve ever made from a personal standpoint.
“I didn’t expect that. It was a difficult deal. I always thought I’d say, ‘OK, let’s do it,’ but that wasn’t true at all. Not that I regret it. I’m very excited. I can’t wait to go back home, but I will miss a lot of the relationships we formed here. It was special in a lot of ways.”
In six seasons (2014-19), Liner, 48, won 34 games and lost 35 as Raider head coach. The region championship was his second.
“We look forward to building on the success of the football program for our team, school and community. The process of hiring the head coach for the Laurens Raiders’ football program will begin immediately,” said Tommy Spires, LDHS Athletics Director.
Added Ed Murray, Chief of Staff for Laurens County School District 55, “We are committed to the continued growth and development of the Raider football program and all of our athletic programs. We appreciate what Coach Liner has done for the program, but his departure creates an opportunity for someone else to step into that head coaching role and lead the program to even greater success.”
Liner didn’t just grow up and play football in Greenwood. He spent 11 years on the staff of Shell Dula, a Laurens native, there. Before coming to Laurens in 2014, Liner spent six years as head coach at nearby Ninety Six.
After saying goodbye to the Laurens players, Liner said. “Since I was their age, I had a dream to be the head coach at Greenwood High School. Once I started coaching, it only furthered that. I’ve tried to prepare myself.”