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.
Barnette attended Dunbar High School in Kanawha County, where he lettered in five sports (football, basketball, baseball, track and wrestling) for the Bulldogs. He graduated from Dunbar in 1962 and attended West Virginia University, where he was a two-year starter and letterman in football in 1964 and 1965 at center under head coach Gene Corum. At WVU, Barnette earned first team All-Southern Conference honors his junior and senior years, while being named third team All-American honors in 1964 as a member of the Mountaineers’ 1964 Liberty Bowl team.
Faced with the opportunity of playing professional football, Barnette made a life-changing decision when he decided to dedicate his life to working with young people. In 1966, he took a position at Connellsville Area High School in Connellsville, Pa., where he was assistant football coach and head wrestling coach for two years. In 1968, Barnette was called back to West Virginia to become the head football coach at South Harrison High School in Lost Creek. Although wins were not his main goal, in 30 years coaching the Hawks (1968-1997), he experienced only two non-winning seasons and ended with 197 wins. His “young men,” as Coach Barnette referred to his players, were known for playing disciplined, hard-hitting, fundamental football. During his tenure at South Harrison, he also coached basketball, baseball, track, started the wrestling program and, when a coach could not be identified, he volunteered to coach cheerleading.
As a Christian, Barnette — who passed away on July 8, 2000 — worked with young people with attention to their whole lives, not simply what they could do with a ball or on a field. He spent many evenings counseling young people and entertaining visits from former students.
Barnette’s favorite standard for success was, “Be proud of who you are, what you are, and where you are from.” If you can remember and abide by these things, you will be a success, he stressed.
Long before Shores was known throughout the Kanawha Valley for his career in insurance and in politics as a county commissioner, he was revered throughout the state of West Virginia as one of the top high school football players of his generation.
Shores began his football career at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School in Charleston, where he showed flashes of greatness under Coach Toby Chandler. He was selected All-City in his eighth- and ninth-grade years, while being selected as captain of the All-City team in his freshman season.
Moving on to Stonewall Jackson High School in 1947 under Coach Russ Parsons, he made an immediate impact. As a sophomore, he alternated at running back as the Generals shared the state championship with Beckley.
All of his hard work came to fruition in his senior season, when he was named the Kennedy Award winner in 1949, symbolic of West Virginia’s high school football player of the year. Harry H. Kennedy, whom the Kennedy Award is named for, took Shores and Parsons to New York City for the Heisman Trophy award ceremony, where he established the Kennedy Award for the State of West Virginia. The Kennedy Award trophy was commissioned by Mr. Kennedy, as a local artist used Shores as the model football player in the award.
Following graduation from Stonewall Jackson, Shores was nominated to participate in the North-South Football Classic in the summer of 1950. The North defeated the South 12-9. It was the last football game he ever played.
Shores went to West Virginia University and was a three-year letterman in track and cross country. In track, he set a WVU and Southern Conference record in the 440-yard dash (400 meters), while also helping the Mountaineers win the 1953 Southern Conference cross country championship.
“It is indeed an honor to be named to the North-South Football Game Hall of Fame some 64 years later,” Hoppy said.
The South team will be coached by Midland Trail’s Joe Dean, with assistance from Randy Halsey, Jim Martin and Lewis McClung.
Fayette County players on the South squad include Midland Trail’s Jake Grimmett and Ethan Barker, Oak Hill’s Brandon Williams and Valley’s Slayton Beard.
St. Marys’ Jodi Mote will be head coach of the North.
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