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Greyhounds In Capable Hands Linehan Has Composure To Lead From Either Side

It’s not too often Aaron Linehan has gotten into a jam and was too indecisive to find his way out.

Unless he’s asked what he would do if he had to choose between offense and defense.

“You put me on the spot,” the Pullman senior said after a long pause. “That’s really hard. Lately I’ve really liked playing safety. You come up on guys and just lay out. But quarterback, there’s a lot of fame and you get to touch the ball every time.”

There was no hesitation on the part of Pullman coach Bill Christie.

“You always hate to have a quarterback over there on defense, you kind of worry about (injuries), but he’s the best kid we have for that position,” Christie said. “We have to be strong on defense. He’s really stepped up and been strong on defense. He gets it done. He’s the best we have there so we have to play him there.”

With Linehan leading the way, the fifth-ranked Greyhounds shared the Great Northern League title and have advanced to the semifinals of the State 2A football playoffs.

Pullman (10-1) faces league rival Medical Lake (10-1) at 7:30 tonight at Albi Stadium for a berth in next weekend’s Grid Classic III championship game in Tacoma.

“Coming into this year we had a real inexperienced team,” Linehan said. “Our goals were Moscow (first game, big rivalry), league, state. (State) was always in back of our mind. Now that we’re here, it’s just astonishment. I don’t know how I can put it into words.”

Linehan is a big reason. The All-Frontier League quarterback last year, Linehan has not necessarily improved on those numbers but he has definitely improved.

“He’s a competitor, he steps up and gets things done,” Christie said. “He’s been there for two years now. A lot of kids do journeyman as a junior and start as senior. He was fortunate to start as junior and made all-league.

“He came back this year and, No. 1, understood more about the offense and No. 2, his role as quarterback and the leadership that goes with it. He’s competitive, maintains his itensity, never quits.”

Linehan said, “I feel like leadership-wise, I stepped it up, which is overall better for the team. Statistically, my numbers may not be as great but my TD-interception ratio is better. I feel like I did what I needed to do for the team to be successful.”

Linehan has thrown for more than 1,700 yards with 20 TDs and five interceptions. The Greyhounds are 9-0 since losing to Chewelah the second week of the season.

“We didn’t know what to expect after that loss,” Linehan admitted. “The whole week we were down. We had a good week of practice and came out and played like we’re capable of playing. We turned it around right there.”

After the loss to the Cougars, the Greyhounds bounced back to blitz Medical Lake 42-0. The three teams ended up in a tie for the league championship and now one team is guaranteed a trip to the championship game.

“It’s not going to be the same team we faced earlier this year,” Linehan said. “They’ve improved greatly, proven by how far they’ve gotten. I don’t know what to expect. If we come in and play our game, hopefully we’ll come out on top.”

Linehan is only 5-foot-10, 150 pounds, but he hopes to continue his football career long after the state playoffs.

“I’ve heard from a few smaller schools, nobody real serious yet,” he said. “I think my size has to do with it. I’ll get to college and get my education. My dream is to play football. Anyone who gives me a chance, I guarantee I won’t prove them wrong.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo