Mount Hope’s Lonnie Warwick, a former NFL standout with the Minnesota Vikings, will be inducted into the West Virginia Athletic Coaches Association’s 2013 Hall of Fame during this weekend’s North-South events.
The 2013 WCHS-TV 8/FOX-11 North-South Football Classic will be played at University of Charleston Stadium/Laidley Field on Saturday, June 15 at 7 p.m.
Gary Barnette of South Harrison and Hoppy Shores of Stonewall Jackson will join Warwick in the 2013 HOF class. Induction ceremonies will take place at 1:45 p.m. on June 15 at West Virginia State University in Institute. The Hall of Fame banquet will follow at 2:45 p.m.
Following are bios of each inductee:
The next time you’re driving on the Route 19 Mountaineer Expressway, you’ll see a sign between Beckley and Oak Hill proclaiming “Home of NFL Player Lonnie Warwick.”
One of the most decorated football players to ever come from the state of West Virginia resides in Fayette County. A 1960 graduate of Mount Hope High School, Warwick lettered in football, basketball and track for Mustangs. He was named All-State in football and basketball, while also winning the Golden Gloves boxing championship.
Warwick signed a football scholarship to attend the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. After one season with the Volunteers in 1961, he transferred to Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, where he graduated with a bachelor of science degree majoring in physical education and minoring in biology.
In 1963, he moved west to Douglas, Ariz., where he went to work for Southern Pacific Railroad. But his football career was far from over.
Warwick began a 13-year NFL career in 1964 after signing a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings. As the starting middle linebacker, he led the Vikings in tackles four times (1966, 1967, 1969 and 1970). On Oct. 3, 1965, he returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, which proved to be the winning margin in a 38-35 Vikings victory over the Los Angeles Rams. Known for defending passes and his reputation as a fierce hitter, he finished his Minnesota career with 11 interceptions and six fumble recoveries, while being named to the Pro Bowl in 1969 and 1970.
On Jan. 11, 1970, Lonnie donned his #59 as the starter at middle linebacker for the Vikings in Super Bowl IV against Coach Hank Stram and the Kansas City Chiefs, a game that featured 13 future Pro Football Hall of Famers.
In 1974, Lonnie was traded to the Atlanta Falcons, where he was a middle linebacker and player-coach. He later took a position as a player-coach with the Washington Redskins in 1976 and 1977.
Returning to the Mountain State, Warwick continued his coaching career as the head coach of the West Virginia Rockets semi-pro football team from 1980-82. He moved to the United States Football League as the defensive line coach for the Denver Gold in 1983 and 1984, working under head coaches Red Miller and Craig Morton. He then returned home to West Virginia again in 1986, when he was defensive line coach at Salem College.
Warwick was voted into the Tennessee Technological University Hall of Fame and the Mount Hope High School Hall of Fame. In 2010, he was named one of the “50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings” of its first 50 seasons.