Andy Linn was best-known in his football-playing days for blocking on the William and Mary offensive line. On Tuesday, he completed a reversal the envy of a wide receiver.
Linn informed the Williamsburg-James City County School Board in a letter that he will resume immediately as the head football coach at Lafayette High and will resign as the school’s athletic director at the end of the school year. Linn said the change has already been approved within the WJCC school system.
It comes after Linn reviewed 12 applications for the football head-coaching position and interviewed three candidates. He said, however, that when the candidate he considered best qualified for the job chose not to take it, he decided to return as the Rams' head coach.
“I have liked being the Lafayette athletic director, but I’m happy about this decision,” Linn said. “I think they’ll find someone who might even be more adept at some of the athletic director things, but they won’t find anyone more suited to coach this football team.
“I bleed Lafayette High School blue and gold, and I feel that a lot of the way a school goes is how your football program goes. Lafayette High football has been the best, and I do not want to see that change.”
Linn became the athletic director July 1 with the stipulation that he could continue as Lafayette football coach only through the end of the 2016 season. That exception to normal practice in WJCC schools was granted because Dan Barner, the school’s athletic director for nearly 20 years, resigned late in the 2015-16 school year and the Rams' football program might suffer if Linn departed abruptly.
The Rams finished 13-1 in 2016, reaching the Group 4A state semifinals while winning their fifth consecutive Bay Rivers District title. Linn, who has coached football at Lafayette for 20 seasons, was 69-9 in six seasons as head coach and reached the 2014 Group 3A state championship game.
By the end of the football season, Linn was confident he could handle the two jobs without drop in performance in either. So, in February, he asked WJCC schools to allow him to continue as coach but was turned down.
He announced his resignation from football Feb. 28 in a heartfelt post to the LHS Football Facebook page, writing, “Please know that this decision did not come easy, nor did it occur without a struggle to continue as your coach.
“It has been determined by our school division that maintaining a dual role as AD and (football) coach that it would not be what is best for Lafayette High. I would like to say thank you to the countless number of people that have made my 20 years in the football program incredible and unforgettable.”
Linn has since continued to supervise the football program’s weight-lifting and conditioning, so his transition back into the head-coaching position should be seamless. He said that the rest of the football coaching staff will remain the same and added that the search for his successor as AD should begin quickly.
“To be honest, I haven’t had time to miss being head coach yet because I’ve been working with the kids and I haven’t missed any games,” Linn said. “I can assure you I would have missed it come this fall.”
Instead, Linn will return as the big whistle for a Lafayette team that has won 42 consecutive Bay Rivers games and will again – perhaps along with rivals Poquoson, Smithfield and New Kent – receive consideration as district favorite. The Rams lose 12 seniors from the 2016 team, at least seven of whom will play in college, including Football Bowl Subdivision signees Hezekiah Grimsley (Virginia Tech) and Dexter Klock (Wyoming).
The cupboard is far from bare, however, with the expected return of Division I prospect Armonii Burden, quarterback Cesar Ward and five starting offensive linemen, led by Jack Erwin, who also starts at linebacker. Now Linn is back in the fold.
“We’ll still be very competitive,” Linn said. “I’m glad to be back to help carry on our winning tradition.”