Greenwood native Chris Liner has been hired as Greenwood’s new head football coach, Greenwood School District 50 announced Friday.
Greenwood District 50 planned to announce the hire Friday afternoon. Laurens District 55 published its release detailing that Liner was leaving the Raiders before 2 p.m. Friday.
Liner is the seventh head coach in Greenwood’s history. He takes over for Dan Pippin, who was 43-28 in six years as the team’s coach.
He is the first Greenwood native to serve as the team’s head coach, a fact Liner took great pride in as he spoke in a phone interview Friday night.
“I am a Greenwood boy. Always have been, always will be,” Liner said. “So being able to have the opportunity to be the first Greenwood boy to call themselves the head football coach at Greenwood High School is— you can’t really put into words what that means to me.”
Liner said he received thousands of messages from friends, colleagues and former players Friday when the news came out.
“I have gotten over a thousand messages today, and I don’t know what else could tell you you did the right thing,” Liner said. “It’s been unbelievable. It’s been very humbling to say the least. I’ve had a unbelievable experience here at Laurens. This place has been unbelievable to my family.”
Liner returns as the head coach of his alma mater after his most successful season at Laurens. This past fall, Liner’s Raiders won the Region 1-5A title and went undefeated in region play, which included a 21-7 win against Greenwood. The team finished the season with a 9-2 record and lost in the second round of the playoffs.
After the season, Liner was named Class 5A Coach of the Year.
Liner had a 34-35 record in six years as the Raiders’ head coach. He previously served as Ninety Six’s head coach and was 43-26 in six seasons as the Wildcats’ head coach.
Before he took over at Ninety Six, Liner worked at Greenwood for 11 years as an assistant coach under Shell Dula. During that time, Greenwood won three state titles and nine region titles.
When Greenwood athletic director Sparky Hudson took the athletic director position in November, he spoke about bringing back the high standards Greenwood had in the early 2000s and early 2010s, when Shell Dula and Gene Cathcart won state championships. Liner and Hudson coached together as assistants.
“There’s no hiding the fact that we are friends,” Hudson said. “We coached together on a state championship team. Chris Liner came in here and got the job on the merits of his abilities. He’s a teacher of the game, he loves kids. I remember back in my comments when I got the AD job, I talked about how we need a football coach that is a ‘kid magnet.’”
Liner echoed Hudson’s sentiments, emphasizing his intention to improve roster sizes and game attendance.
As for his coaching staff next fall, Liner didn’t name who he had in mind to join him, but emphasized those hires will instill confidence in the players those people will coach.
“I think the Greenwood community is going to be ecstatic when they see who’s coming with me back to their hometown,” Liner said. “I’m not going to get into that right now, but they will be ecstatic when they see the names and the faces of the young men that once walked the halls of that school. They’re not just getting Coach Liner, they’re getting some people who might be better human beings than I am.
“We’ve got a chance to right the ship and I know without a shadow of a doubt that’s going to happen.”
Hudson said he’s not promising Liner will “sprinkle magic fairy dust” to bring success back to Greenwood.
“Going back to the magic fairy dust, hes not going to wave it around and everything’s going to be perfect,” Hudson said. “But he’s going to give kids an opportunity to come out and be a part of a program that’s proud, that has rich heritage and tradition. They’ll be able to write their legacy as a part of this proud program.”
District 50 Superintendent Steve Glenn said in a phone interview that interviews were conducted earlier this week and the hire was approved by the school board at a called meeting on Thursday.
When Liner coaches the team next fall, Greenwood will play in Class 4A after the South Carolina High School League moved the Eagles in the latest realignment. The Eagles played in Class 5A for the past four years, and finished fourth or fifth in the region the past three seasons on the way to a season-ending loss to Dorman in the first round of the playoffs.