Rivalry game honors beloved late East High School football coach

Published: Sep. 23, 2023 at 7:58 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Weeks of football practice at Madison East High School led up to Saturday’s highly-anticipated matchup against decades-old rival La Follette High School.

As much as the win mattered, the Purgolders were playing for another reason.

“He would’ve told us ‘Turn the camera off, you don’t need to make a big deal out of me.’ But Chris, you know we’re here in spirit, we love you and we should make a big deal about a great man,” head coach Jeremy Thornton said Saturday.

A beloved member of their team, coach Chris Lins passed away unexpectedly in July at age 36.

“A guy who in almost everything he did he really was a winner as a dad, as a fisherman, as a coach, as a player, so, he’s really missed man. It’s been a heavy heart this week, especially leading up to this game,” defensive coordinator coach Wilson Seely said. “Coach Lins would just be proud of the kind of young men that we have continued to develop. Win or lose that was always our main focus.”

The team says the game would have meant a lot to Coach Lins, especially since he played against the same rival when he was a Purgolder.

“He won both of his years junior and senior year I know. He won the city championship his senior year against me. So yeah, this was a big deal for him,” Seely said.

It’s why the team is cherishing Saturday’s victory that much more.

“This game, this rivalry is definitely dedicated to him and everything we do moving forward,” Thornton said. “The boys have prepared hard, had a great week of practice, and you know, really just care about winning this game for Coach Lins and bringing home that Lussier Cup and celebrating in his honor.”

The Purgolders beat the Lancers 20 to 14.

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