Friday, September 30, 2005
BY GARY STAGGERS
Last week's untimely death of former Sunnyside resident Ron Linehan rekindled memories for this old sportscaster, who had the good fortune of calling Ron's games with the Sunnyside Grizzlies in the mid-60s. I've seen a lot of high school football players in my time, but pure and simply, Ron was the hardest-hitter I ever saw, leading his team to back-to-back Mid-Valley titles in 1966 and '67.
Ample testimony to the ferocity of his play came in his senior season, when he broke three football helmets, all of which belonged to him. There is some conjecture that hits like that could have perhaps set the early stage for his death at the age of 55 due to Alzheimer's disease.
I remember a night at Selah, when, unbeknowst to me, Linehan's uniform number was changed just before the start of the game. As the contest unfolded, this player in the unknown jersey laid out three Selah players. These were not illegal tackles or cheap shots, just devastating collisions that left opponents inert on the field of play. Wrong number or not, the player wreaking havoc with the Vikings had to be, and obviously was, Ron Linehan.
Ron's later success as an all Big-Sky linebacker at Idaho and later, as an outstanding coach in Oregon, was not a surprise. His dedication to excellence was unchallenged and it is unlikely that Sunnyside High will ever see his like again.
Linehan set a high standard of excellence for the Grizzlies, but his trio of brothers, Rick, Kelly and Scott, were equally brilliant in their own right. Ron and the rest of the Linehan clan will not be soon forgotten.
Gary Staggers formerly was employed as a sportscaster for Sunnyside's now defunct KREW Radio station.