FOOTBALL: Richland to honor Lonnie Pierson

Tri-City HeraldNovember 16, 2012 

Lonnie Pierson hasn’t coached a football game in eight years.

But that doesn’t mean he has been forgotten by his family and friends.

Pierson was inducted into the Richland High School’s Wall of Fame earlier this fall, and he will be honored by friends and family at 6:30 p.m. today at the Richland High School auditorium.

A reception will follow at Jackson’s in Richland.

Pierson’s kids and their spouses have put together the event, which has been in the works for at least a month.

“I found out about it about a week ago,” said Pierson. “They pretty much kept me in the dark.”

Pierson spent 32 years in coaching — 29 of them at Richland High School and 19 as the head football coach before retiring in January of 2005.

His coaching record at Richland was 129-63, and he was part of four Bombers teams that went to the state championship game — two as an assistant in 1975 and 1981, and two as head coach in 1996 and 1999.

The 1981 and 1999 teams won the title.

Pierson never wanted the spotlight on him, but instead his players and assistant coaches.

“I inherited a program on the rise, that was well intact, and that I knew well becaise I was the defensive coordinator for 10 years,” Pierson said in a phone interview Friday night. “Then I surrounded myself with really quality people. I think, year in and year out, we produced a pretty good product.”

It was. But Pierson had a lot to do with that since he was the program’s leader.

That’s why Bombers young and old will be at the high school, tonight — to honor him.

When he retired in 2005, he tried to explain why he liked football so much.

“I can tell you the thing that gets me excited year after year is taking a bunch of guys from three different grades — seniors, juniors and sophomores — with a whole bunch of different personalities and trying to hone and make these guys become one unit,” said Pierson. “I love the challenge of bringing guys who hardly know each other to become one unit.”

And he loved helping young men grow.

“There have been a lot of kids over the years,” Pierson said. “And hopefully they felt good about their playing experience.”

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