The Miners and Commodores Meet Again

Photo by Becky Deischer Photography

The Miners and Commodores meet again.

It has been a few years since their last meeting, which was for the title in 2007. I’m sure it’s a game that has stuck in Coach Spencer and the PC fans crawl as Linton cruised to a 35-0 lead through 3 quarters to win 35-14. The Miners recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff, then blocked a punt to jump up 14-0 early in that game. A game that saw Bo Gibson chew up 187 rush yards in his last high school game, but also had Ethan Brewer and Mickey Tosti break 100 each for the Miners as well. That all seems so long ago and the first of Linton’s 3 year run as sectional 40 champions. The faces come and go, the numbers change, but the uniforms and helmets are the same. The reputations unchanged, the winning ways a staple for each school, as well as the community support they each revel in.

Since that ‘0-7 loss, Perry has not been back to the championship game, but not because they weren’t talented. They reeled off 10 straight wins in ’08 and only to be defeated by a strong up and coming North Daviess team in the semi final game. Those Cougars would do the same thing to PC in 2009 as PC was 9-1 going into that heartbreaker loss. 2010 would start rough, and PC sat 1-3, and many ill-advisedly thought the Commodores were no threat in the PLAC or Sectional 40. You have to go back to 1995 to find a PC season with as many losses as 3, and they had 5 that year….but…they still took Sectional 40, and the Regional only to fall to Attica 14-6 in the State Semi-Final. Those who look beyond the Won Loss records knew that 1-3 did not indicate PC being down at all. Rather a loss to some very good opposition: 3A Corydon Central beat PC 26-20; 2A Forest Park would win 21-0 in Leopold, while PLAC foe West Washington would get their 1st win over PC since 2000 (10 straight losses) with a 28-14 big win. The combined opponent WL of those 3 losses was 25-7 and WW is alive to play for Sectional 38 title this week. Perry has won seven straight games since that WW loss, including a monster 3 overtime win over 2A power Paoli who is 9-2 (their other loss was to Corydon), and playing for a Sectional 31 title this week. Against 1A competition, the Commodores are 4-1 and didn’t allow a rushing TD until week 9 against the power option of Paoli. They will be ready to reclaim the trophy.

Linton’s Miners will not surrender that crown without a fight. It was Perry Central that the Miners had to dethrone after the Commodores ended both the 2006 and 2005 seasons for Miner faithful. Linton had gone 17-3 in that two year period, and two of those losses were to PC. Linton’s last 2 sectional wins were as dramatic as could possibly be with 18-16 and 24-20 wins over N.Daviess. The young miners started with only 10 seniors, and lost 2 before the season began with year-ending injuries. Linton won their 1st 3 games handily, but went 1-2 the next 3. Those losses included a 33-29 loss to 7-4 3A West Vigo, a game the Miners were up 22-0 early, and 29-20 as late as 6:00 to go in the 4th. It also included a 73-33 loss to N.Daviess that was easily the worst defeat in any recent Miner history. The only positive was that it was 42-0 late in the 1st half, and Linton managed to put up 33 points from then on…but the defense was not present. Fortunately for Miner faithful, Coach Weber and his staff retooled, simplified, made some changes and Linton came out and beat undefeated North Knox the following week and closed out with 3 wins to finish 7-2. They followed with a tough road win at Springs Valley- who had just upended the same ND team that smashed the Miners-, and a big win in a rematch with North Knox to earn the right to defend their title this Friday.

For Perry Central, the road to the championship game has been paved by Sr RB #12 MIkey Wilkerson (5’10 190). He came into 2010 with over 1700 yards rushing, and has added over 1900 this year alone. It’s a system that has worked very well for the Commodores for many years. Every write-up I do on Perry year in and out could be repeated and just change the names. Dwight Brown, Tim Taylor, Bo Gibson, TJ Hall, and now Wilkerson are just some of the long list of dominant running backs in Commodore lore. #17 Hunter LaGrange (Jr 5’11 175) adds 4 TD and 303 yards on 56 carries, and lately Jr Justin Hagan #23 has seen carries with 159 yards, 3 TD on 30 carries in the last 6 weeks. Wilkerson has been the workhorse with 346 carries, and 5.60 per carry…and 30 rush TDs alone. He averages 176.1 ypg and carries on average 31.5 times a game. He was held under 100 yards only once (92 in a loss to Forest Park in week 2), and broke over 200 yards on 3 occasions with a game high 258 in the first meeting with Wood Memorial. LaGrange’s high was 66 on 8 carries against Mitchell, while Hagan had 76 yards on 13 carries 2 weeks ago vs WM. It bears mention that Wilkerson carried over 30 times in 7 games, with a high of 48 in the 3OT win over Paoli.

For the Miners it has been a fairly consistent balance of run and pass, taking what the defense gives. In the running game it is not a one man show, which it the norm for Linton Football. Sr #19 Tylor Scott (5’9 165), and Jr #8 Kenton Helton (5’10 165) have had the bulk of the carries with Helton leading the way with 877 yards on 130 carries, Scott with 767 on 122 carries. Jr #5 Nick Sparks (6’0 175) is the third back in line with 31 carries and 201 yards total. We have seen more of Fr #44 Dane Rupska (6’2 172) in recent weeks with 14 carries and 120 yards. In all there are 6 Miner backs who could carry the ball on any down. Helton and Scott both have 12 rush TDs, Rupska 3, and Sparks 2; plus all have per carry averages above 6.29 each, Rupska with 8.57. Helton is coming off his season high rushing game with 206 on 15 carries against North Knox last week. He has 3 100+ yard games, plus another two just shy with 91 and 98. Scott’s season hi came with 122 yards on 17 carries in the mid season meeting with NK, and he has 2 100+ games, and four 90+ games as well. Sparks had 60 yards against North Central.

Perry’s offense has rushed for 2787 yards, a 253.35 average, 42 touchdowns and a 5.38 per carry average. Of 636 plays they have run the ball 90.24% of the time. They rarely lose the ball on a fumble as I only show 3 for the year. They’ve pounded opponents for 200+ rushing yards on 6 occasions with a high of 411 against WM in week 6. Their low output was 93 versus Forest Park in week 2. Linton has run the ball 62.20% of their 639 plays, for 2391 rush yards; a 5.98 per carry average and 38 TDs. The Miners have lost 11 fumbles. They’ve crossed 200+ yards rushing as a team on 7 occasions, a high of317 over Union, a low of 60 to North Daviess. Linton averages 217.36 yards rushing per game.

The Passing game is certainly something to be aware of from the Commodores. Obviously you play to try and stop the run when you face PC, and they will try and wear you down with it. Then out of the blue, the pass will kill you. In 2009 Coach Spencer used a 2-QB system, but 2010 has seen Sr #7 Dee Jay Shaw (5’10 170) in charge. He has passed 116 times completing 55 (47.4%) for 730 yards, 6 TDs and 3 interceptions. Wilkerson has popped a couple passes as well, completing 1 for 39 yards. Shaw’s main target has been WR Sr #44 Lucas Bryant (5’8 155) with 20 catches for 285 yards and a TD. LaGrange has 13 catches for 122 and 3 TDs, and #99 WR Sr Blake Crockett (5’11 160) adds another 7 for 135. Wilkerson is also a threat with 106 yards on 6 receptions and 2 scores. Other names to watch for include Blaine Wiseman (Sr #22 5’10 160), TE Cody Atkins (Sr #94 6’4 240) and Marcus Peter (Jr #37 5’11 140). Single game high in receptions has been Bryant’s 7 in week one’s loss to Corydon, and he has a couple games with 4 catches. He also has the game high with 65 in week one, and is coming off a 4 catch 49 yard game last week vs N.Daviess. Shaw’s game high yardage has been 107, and he’s done it twice (week 1 Corydon, and last week against ND). Of his 116 attempts, 44 of them came in the 1st two weeks of the season. Take those away and they only average throwing the ball 8 times a game.

Linton’s balance is a key to their success offensively, and So #15 QB Austin Karazsia (6’6 195) has had a solid first year at the helm of the offense. He has thrown for 2021 yards on 139 of 238 passing, hitting on 58.4% of those throws. He has 20 TD throws, and 183.7 per game average, with perhaps the only down side, 13 interceptions. However, that is actually only an interception every 18.4 passes. AK’s season high came in a defeat to ND, but he broke or tied Miner records with 353 yards passing on 27 of 42 passing, and 5 TDs. He has eclipsed 200 passing yards on 6 occasions, including the first 4 games of the year. The low was a 22 yard game on 2 of 8 passing in a run dominated win over Springs Valley in the opening round of sectional 40. He has an array of receivers who have all proven ability to make the big catch and have speed in open field to break away for quick scores. No less than five Miners have 20+ catches, headed out of the backfield by Ty Scott’s 28 for 444 yards and 7 scores. So #2 Cole Bradbury (5’10 150) has the most yards with 557 on 26 catches and 6 TDs. Sparks has 21 catches for 300 yards, Helton 20 for 216 yards and a score. SE Sr #9 Caleb Stuppy (5’11 155) has 20 receptions for 223 yards and 3 TDs, SE/TE So #88 Dess Fougerouse (6’5 180) has 2 TDs in 11 catches for 159 yards and Sr #24 Reid Firestone (6’0 170) adds 5 more catches for 78 yards. Another name to throw is in Sr #43 Nick Angell (5’9 140) with 5 catches and a score). Bradbury is coming off a season high of 117 yards last week against NK, and has another 106 yard effort in week 8 against Union; however it’s Scott’s 119 yards receiving against North Daviess on 4 catches that is the season high for any receiver in 2010. A lot of season high’s occurred in that ND game- Stuppy 7 catches 77 yards, Fougerouse 6 for 75. Sparks had his high of 86 on 5 catches in week 5 against Valley. Helton had 69 yards on 3 catches in week 3 vs WM.

As mentioned, PC throws to basically keep your defense honest, and to take advantage on a defense loading up on the run. If the Safety and LB’s are sliding up, disregarding the pass, not paying attention…Shaw will connect with a deep one. Also must be aware of Wilkerson or LaGrange sliding out of the backfield for a screen that turns into a big play. They only throw 9.8% of the time, so the numbers aren’t eye-popping, but they serve their purpose. They average 69.91 per game, and again with only 3 interceptions, they don’t turn the ball over much. Some games they don’t need the pass at all! 1 of 5 for 1 yard against Mitchell in a 21-0 win. The Miners at one point were balanced nearly exactly 50-50 in rushing and passing, but lately have established the run game more. Currently Linton throws 37.4% of the time, and I suspect they will throw more often on Friday night than in recent weeks. The Miners average 184.09 passing per game.

With such a powerful rushing game of the Commodores, and the versatile attack of the Miners you have to have solid lineplay up front. The injury bug bit the Miners hard in pre-season work outs losing Sr (and junior all state tackle) Brandon Swihart (5’6 231) for the year. In practices last week they lost Jr #64 Jeromy Hunt (5’10 290) for the year as well. Hunt had missed 3 games in midseason as well. In addition, the miners would lose another Oline regular to grades a couple weeks back. So the depth the Miners have enjoyed most of the year is being tested. Three Seniors anchor the line with center #52 AJ Sperling (5’5 218); G #65 Anthony Morin (5’9 190), and T Brock Moore (6’0 220). Jr #70 Blake Eaton (6’0 200) is at another G, with So #54 Ethan Lannan (5’9 188) at the other T. Jr #61 Blake Scharbrough (5’11 270) will certainly get time, as will #22/62 Tanner Butler (jr 6’1 220) & Sr #79 Alex Seat (6’3 220). Butler was moved to basically a tight end position last week for additional size on the line.

The Commodores have always been known for their brutal size on the line, and that makes 2010 different from prior years. It also shows that the scheme is bigger than the parts within that scheme. Perry suffered their own big injury with the loss of Senior guard Colt Mullis (5’9 180) this season. The Commodore offensive line is senior dominated, lead by #61 BrIan James (6’1 180) at center; #54 Dylan Hirsch (6’0 185) at guard, and tackle #74 Brad Barnes (6’0 210). Other starters include Soph Guard #70 Greg Coultas (5’10 180) and tackle Jr #63 Travis James (6’1 245). Additional depth comes from Soph #68 Spencer Wright (5’10 200), Sr #74 Brad Barnes (6’0 210) and Sr #78 Blaine Persinger (6’0 237)…still some impressive big guys up front. You can also throw in the tight end position in the case of PC with Sr #47 Joey Peter (5’10 205) and Sr #94 Cody Atkins (6’4 240).

Defensively…it has always been the heart and soul of both teams as long as I can remember. 2010 saw nothing change in PC land even with the 3 losses on the record. They have allowed only 14.00 ppg, 95.00 rushing ypg, and a total defense of 219.6 per game. Opponents have only averaged 3.11 per rush. Only 3 teams have gained over 100 yards on the ground against PC; Paoli (260) was the season high, North Daviess (202 last week), and 135 from Mitchell in week 7. Coincidentally all wins for the Commodores. The least allowed was a mere 12 on 23 attempts from Wood Memorial in week 6. As mentioned earlier, they have been very stingy allowing rush TDs…5 all season, and not until week 9! In the 3 PC losses, the scoring came via the air in all cases. PC allowed 121.00 per game thru the air holding 5 opponents under 100 yards, including only 9 yards allowed to Valley, and 8 to Crawford County. However, passing teams have had some success with 375 from West Washington, and 163 to Forest Park in losses, and Wood Memorial had 259 and 232 in their two wins over the Trojans. PC has allowed 16 pass TDs, and picked off 9. As a whole, PC has held 6 teams to 200 or below in total offense, been hit for over 300 only twice with a high to WW of 447.

The Miner defense has undergone some growing pains in 2010. In years past the Miner defense kept Linton in games, and in some cases won the game, while the offense was in a slump. In 2010 the Miner offense has had to score points to offset mistakes on the defensive side that have led to big play touchdowns. However, the D allows only 18.91 ppg. Since the devastating 73 points allowed to ND in week 6, the simplified re-focused defense has stiffened up allowing 11.0 ppg over the last 5 games, but more importantly not letting the big play occur. Linton has given up 133.18 per game on the ground, which is alarming against a run dominant team. Linton gives up 128.73 passing for a total defense of 261.91 ypg. The Miners do have 16 interceptions as a team. And have allowed 14 TDs each thru rushing and passing. The rush defense has held opponents under 100 yards on 5 occasion with a low of just 4 yards on 24 carries for Wood Memorial in week 3. Only 2 teams have gone over 200 rushing, (West Vigo 200 exact), and North Daviess with the season high of 331. However a couple teams fell just short with 198 and 196. The Pass defense has been tested but consistent. North Knox was held under 100 passing in each of their losses to Linton with a low of 40 just last week. The season high came from North Central’s SW7 leading pass team with 184 yards. In 10 of 11 contests, opponents were held to 158 or less in passing. In terms of total yards the Miners have given up their share, with a high of 482 from NDaviess, and over 300 in a win over Springs Valley, and 321 in a loss to West Vigo. They’ve only held 2 opponents to under 200 total yards with a low of 156 to Eastern Greene in week 1. A good description would be bend and not break when describing the Miner defense of 2010.

The Defense looks like this for PC: The Defensive Tackles are Sr #83 Wes Rudd (5’6 160; 33 tkls 6.5 for loss) and #78 Sr Blaine Persinger (6’0 237; 57 tkls 7TKL, 3 sacks). Jr #63 Travis James (6’1 245;) will rotate in. The Ends will be Sr #94 Cody Atkins (6’4 240; 41 tkls 3 for loss) and Sr #74 Brad Barnes (6’0 210; 33 tkls 3 TFL). MLB’s are Sr #12 Mikey Wilkerson (5’10 190; 75 tkls, 17.5 tfl, and 6 sacks), and Sr #47 Joey Peter (5’10 205; 33 tkls 5.5 for loss, 2 sacks). The OLBs are Sr #44 Lucas Bryant (5’8 155; 42 tkls 3 for loss) and Jr #17 Hunter LaGrange (5’11 175; 76 tkls, 7 for loss, 2 sacks). The leading tackler is safety Sr #34 Ethan Wheatley (6’0 175; 88 tkls). The Corners are Sr #6 Jordan Esarey (5’11 160; 26 tkls) and Sr #99 Blake Crockett (5’11 160; 15 tkls). Others seeing action include in the DB with Fr #21 Austin LeClere (5’8 160) & Fr #2 Dakota Schaad (6’0 155). Jr #23 Justin Hagan will see time at MLB spelling Wilkerson, and Sr #41 Zach Schraner (6’1 174) at OLB. Sr #54 Dylan Hirsch (6’0 185; 10 tkls 1.5 for loss) has seen action on the DL as well. LaGrange has recovered 4 fumbles, Wheatley had 4 interceptions, Wilkerson leads in both Sacks (6) and TFL (17.5). Rudd may appear undersized at DT, but his speed has led to 6.5 tackles for loss.

The Miner defense will have its hands full trying to stop the run and will have Sr #56 Brock Moore (6’0 220; 32 Tkl 6 tfl, 4 sacks) with Jr #61 Blake Scharbrough (5;11 270; 62 tkls, 9 for loss) both at DT. The Ends will be #22/62 Jr. Tanner Butler (6’1 220; 18 tkls, 2 sacks) and Sr #65 Anthony Morin (5’9 190; 26 tkl , 3.5 tfl, 1 sack). The Injury to Hunt has forced some moving around, and one would be concerned about losing a 5’10 290 DT in a game like this. He accounted for 39 tkls 6 for loss and 1.5 sacks as well, but has missed 4 games this season already. The ILBs are lead by leading tackler Sr #24 Reid Firestone (6’0 170; 80 tkls 7 Tfl, 1 sack) and a platoon of So #54 Ethan Lannan (5’9 188; 63 tkl, 4 for loss and a sack) and Fr #44 Dane Rupska (6’2 172; 45 tkls, 3 for loss). Jr #70 Blake Eaton (22 tkls, 1.5 for loss) will see action at both ILB and DE, and Sr #79 Alex Seat (6’3 220; 8 tkls 1 each TFL and sack) as well at DE. The OLBs have been Sr #19 Tylor Scott (5’9 165; 44 tkls 9 TFL) and Jr #5 Nick Sparks (6’0 175; 57 tkls, 7 TFL, 1 sack), with rotation from Jr #8 Kenton Helton (5’10 165; 35 tkls 8 TFL). The defensive backfield is headed by corners Sr #9 Caleb Stuppy (5’11 155; 33 tkls) and Soph #2 Cole Bradbury (5’10 150; 25 tkls) with safety Soph #23 Koye Kaiser (5’6 165; 36 tkls). Scott saw most the action at Safety in 2010, but was moved to OLB in week 7. This makes the DB young with 2 sophomores and relatively small. They make up for that with technique and speed. Scott, Kaiser and Stuppy each have 3 interceptions: Bradbury, Helton, Sparks and Firestone with 2 each.

In terms of Special Teams, we all know they can break a game wide open. I can’t say I know a bunch about PC when it comes to this other than they have a very solid kicker in Austin LeClere. He has hit on 46 of 48, over 96% of his PATs, missing his only attempt at a FG. Linton has not one but 2 solid kickers. Soph #6 Dyllanne Deischer has hit on 84% of her kicks (38-45) including her last 12. Deischer has also connected on 2 of 3 field goals (27 and 26 yards) while Ty Scott has hit on 1 of 2 longer efforts (hitting from 37). Coach Weber has to feel good to go for 3 if need be in a big game like this. LeClere handles the kick off duties, averaging 32.84 in 56 kicks, while Scott has won the kick off duties averaging 45.09 in 23 kicks. Dane Rupska has kicked off 7 times for a 30.29 avg. Punting for PC has been Mikey Wilkerson with 33 punts averaging 35.18. The Miners have had 2 active punters: 15 from Kenton Helton (33.33 yd/p) and 12 from Anthony Morin (32.67 yd/p)

The return game has historically been something Linton has always been dangerous at. 2010 has been no exception. Koye Kaiser has a 65 yard punt return TD, and a 75 yard kickoff return TD, and nearly had another one had he not wore down! He averages 24.6 on KO returns, and 13.71 on punt returns. Bradbury and Helton have each given the Miners great kick returns as well with 24.2 and 17.0 averages each. The Commodores appear to use Lucas Bryant as the main punt returner with a 11.80 average, while he has a 14.25 avg on kickoff returns. Ethan Wheatley has 4 returns for an average of 38.75 per on kickoff, and Hunter LaGrange has as 21.2 kickoff return average on 5 returns.

Well…that’s about as much as I can dig up! Wait..there is more. The Miner offense has put up an average of 40.09 points per game, in fact being held under 30 only twice all year. The low output for Linton 21 in the round 1 win over Valley, and the high was in week1 with 63 over Eastern Greene. PC averages right at 30 ppg offensively, being held to 7 by Forest Park their season low, to 52 over Crawford County the high. The Miners are led in scoring by Tylor Scott with 133 points, with 86 from Helton. PC is obviously led by Wilkerson with 152 points flowed by the kicker LeClere’s 46. These two do have common opponents- they both handled Wood Memorial (Linton 45-0, Perry twice 49-12 and 40-18). Both defeated Springs Valley (Perry 42-7, Linton twice 21-14 and 34-19). The big one that lashes out at you is North Daviess, whom Perry beat last week 14-13 in Leopold, but whom Linton was blasted 73-33 in Elnora in week 6. Looking at schedule strength, you’d have to go with Perry Central on that. As mentioned, the three losses were to very good teams. They play five 2A teams, winning four of those losing only to 8-3 Forest Park. Those 2A wins include Paoli (9-2), but the other 3 teams a combined 5-25). They also lost to 3A Corydon Central who finished 8-2. Against 1A they only lost to W.Washington (9-2), winning easily in the other 3 games before meeting NDaviess. The overall opponent WL is a very good 69-56 (55,2%). Linton faced one 3A team as well in West Vigo (7-4). A game they should have put away and didn’t. They only other non-1A teams was (3-7) Sullivan whom they beat 42-21. They did defeat 4 North Knox twice, and 5-5 Valley twice, but the other wins came against sub-500 competition. Course it’s the same schedule Linton has played in other years when they have won sectional and regional titles. However, on the surface you’d have to think PC has faced a much more difficult schedule in 2010 than the Miners.

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