Two years ago, when Linton made their initial trip to Clarksville in 2018, they simply didn’t get off the bus. That two-plus hour jaunt is usually hard to overcome, and it was made even harder by a cold, driving cold rain all the way there — and one that kept on pounding through-out the ballgame.
In ’18, the Miners were down 21-0 in the 1st, and by 28 just minutes into the 2nd. Linton would ultimately lose 35-14; however, they would end up with more yards, more first downs, and have balanced 219 rushing 140 passing in the losing effort; we could not stop Kaden Williams and his 222 rushing yards. Last year at The Roy, the Miners returned the favor by jumping up 21-0 in the 1st and a 35-0 halftime edge to dominate the Pioneers 35-7. Maybe it is that long bus trip always affected the road team.
It was also Senior night for the Providence kids, and that usually adds a bit more enthusiasm to the night as well; not to mention the Pioneers had won two-in-a-row and three of their last four. Linton came in from an expected and lop-sided hammering of Eastern Greene, but still stinging from the loss to North Knox the previous week. This game was looked upon as a test to see where our Miners sat as we heading into post-season. How would this go in 2020?
As the Miners received the opening kickoff, and started from their own 13, immediately I saw changes. Every game so far, it seemed there were personnel changes of one type of the other. Coach Brian Oliver, Offensive Coordinator Jake Gennicks, and Defensive Coordinator Mark Gennicks, as well as the entire staff, are continually looking for ways to better the team, increase team depth, and add wrinkles to the offense and defense in preparation for the ultimate battles ahead.
As the offense took the field, I saw Senior Levi Ground in a new number (61) and at a new position (Center). I also saw Junior Cameron Goodman lining up at TE. Now, Cameron was on crutches on the sidelines most of the year; he only dressed for a couple of games, but apparently he made a big impression on the coaches this past week of practices, and there he was. The Miners were still without Senior Damien Giles, although he was dressed, and I did see him in the game at one point just briefly at DE. Another two- way apparently not playing was Junior Donovan DeBruhl on the line. So the O-line took on a different look with Aiden and Landen Giles, Dalton Carpenter, Wrigley Franklin and Grounds, along with Goodman at TE; and that included Bracey Breneman whom also played at lot of TE this night.
Would the Miners get off the bus this time?
It started positive with a 7-yard run up-the-gut from Drew Smith, but the ball hit the ground on the next exchange in the backfield with Gennicks falling on the ball. Hunter broke on 3rd down for 13 and a first down, but the ball popped forward on the tackle from Jaxon Murphy, and Isaac Ohlman recovered it at the Miner 44. Senior RB Jeremy Gettlefinger, who came in with 800 yards rushing for the Pioneers, got outside on his first touch reaching the 15; but a yellow hanky sat back at the 38 with an obvious holding call wiping out this big gain. From then on, there was a ferocious Miner Defense in the first half.
C. Goodman and Grounds were involved in the next couple plays sandwiched around Gabe Eslinger’s TFL of Murphy. Grounds got pressure then a sack on 3rd and 15 to force a Pioneer punt which was perfectly placed by Murphy at the Miner 4.
The drive that followed from that 4 has to be the longest Linton drive — certainly of this year — and most time-consuming drive, as well. I will definitely be doing some research! When it was all said and done, the Miners marched 95 yards on 22 plays, which were all on the ground but one with an early-on Gennicks-to-Smith 19-yard pass play. It featured four 3rd and 1’s with three conversions, and two 4th and 1’s with one conversion. And that last non-conversion occurred at the Pioneer 1-yard line. Linton has been very good in the red zone (26-29), and they looked certain to maintain that percentage with a 1st and goal at the “1” — only for be stuffed four plays in a row. It was hard to believe, as Linton had used 11:45 from the clock. Linton had churned seven first-downs, and utilized all four weapons — Gennicks 7-23, Smith 8-19, Goodman 5-18, and Padgett 2-5 in the effort — only to come away with no points.
With the Pioneers pushed back to their own goal line, the Miner D forced an easy three-and-out on stops by Grounds, Eslinger, Smith, Landon Giles and Hunter Johns. The punt gave Linton the ball at the Providence 47. Facing a 3rd and 13, Gennicks hit Smith with a perfect screen setup, and the junior trudged forward but fell just a yard short. The 4th and 1 was all Gennicks up-the-middle. Then Gennicks saw a wide-open Eli Poe down-the-middle of the field and tried to heave it to him. The pass got caught in the wind, causing Poe to adjust, leap, and fight off the Pioneer defender to make a big catch at the Providence 9-yard line, a 29-yard game. Another red zone appearance started rough, though, with a motion penalty back to the 14; however, Kaulin Padgett busted through the middle for 11, then Trey Goodman finished it off from 3-yards out for the initial score of the game.
Jaydan Miller, in a show of faith from the Miner Coaches, came in to kick the PAT through the middle, and the Miners lead 7-0 with 2:20 left in the first half. The Miner D continued their domination with Breneman stopping Gettelfinger for 2 yards, then back-to-back Murphy pass attempts being affected by pressure from Breneman, as well as Senior Landon Giles. With 1:16 left in the half and the ball at their own 39, the Miners were poised to score once more before the half, as Gennicks hit Padgett for a solid 26-yard gain to the Pioneer 35 on the first play. Pressure from Pioneer DE’s David Wall & Kole Krininger followed on three consecutive pass plays, two of those for sacks of 12 and then 11 yards. Miller’s punt was good to the Pioneer 30, but Carsen Heldman put a real scare in Miner fans as he managed to break containment toward the home sideline. For a second, he appeared to be on his way to put Providence on the board. It was Wrigley Franklin who got just enough of Heldmen to put him out at the Miner 42. Suddenly, the Pioneer fans had something to cheer about, for an offense that had produced nothing in terms of offense. With just 30 seconds to make something happen, Murphy and the Pioneers went to the air. The Miner upped the heat on the QB with Grounds and L. Giles being a one-two punch. The Defensive backfield did a superb job of locking down on receivers as Murphy scrambled to find open targets. The backfield consisted of Padgett, Miller, Poe, as well as OLBs’ Johns and Braymon Lannan. Poe would break up two passes, including a last effort to Gettelfinger at the Miner 10.
Halftime had to be interesting in both locker-rooms. The Pioneers had no success offensively in the first half. Fifteen yards of offense as a team, and all of that on nine carries. Passing had been hitless at 0-for-5. On the other hand, the Miners had already put 183-yards in the books, an impressive balance of 97 rushing and 86 passing. The thing was, the score was only 7-0. Linton had left an obvious score off the board by failing at four attempts from the “1” after an 11+ minute, 95-yard drive. High school football is such a momentum driven thing, and Providence being at home had to feel pretty lucky to be down just seven points; plus, they would get the ball to start the second half too.
It would be clear, though, the Miners were not going to come out any different than they had started. Landon Giles hammered Heldman for a loss of 5-yards on the first down, the Giles and Eslinger stopped Krininger for a 1- yard gain. It was Eslinger with another outstanding read to drop Gettelfinger for another 5-yard loss. It was three-and-out with a statement made. Providence’s defense had stopped Linton’s offense later in the second quarter, and they did the same in Linton’s first possession of the third. Gettelfinger and Brian Wall dropped Padgett for a 3-yard loss, and a pass from Gennicks intended for Breneman was hampered by David Wall’s pressure once again. Miller’s punt would get Providence at their own 32 with 8:36 in the third. Still, there was no let-up in the Miner D, as three plays netted 4-yards. Again, it was Gabe Eslinger involved in all three plays, including another TFL on Gettelfinger.
Still, though, it was just a 7-0 contest, and Linton needed to get the offense back flowing. Smith, then Gennicks each ran for 5-yards and a first down. The Drew pounded up the gut of the Pioneer defense for 12 more into Providence territory at the 47, then Trey Goodman got in the act with an 11-yard run. From the 36, Gennicks rolled out to his right. Making his out cut at about the Pioneer 20, TE Bracey Breneman found himself behind the Pioneer defender. Gennicks fired the pass on-target, but Breneman had to reach out and make a terrific catch on the run, maintain his balance and scoot the remaining 13-yards for a Miner touchdown. The PAT kick snap was evidently botched, and Gennicks scrambled to find room to try a desperate pass to Smith that was knocked down by Wall in the end zone. Still, the Miners had put more points on the board and let 13-0 with 4:16 in the third quarter.
A squib kick up the middle by Smith set Providence at their own 41 in what was a must-score drive situation. Facing a 3rd and 7, the Pioneers would get their initial first-down of the ballgame with just over 2:00 minutes in the 3rd. It was a great play by QB Jaxon Murphy, who scrambled to his right avoiding pressure and wining to the Miner 44 and a gain of 12. On a 3rd and 5, Gettelfinger finally got to the outside he’d been denied all night, and broke for a 26-yard run stopped by Eslinger downfield. Again facing 3rd and 5, Gettelfinger got just enough despite the play of Johns and Eslinger. From the Miner 3, it took two runs from Murphy to get in, and with kicking specialist Nathan Striby’s drilling the PAT, it was back to a touchdown lead 13-7. Thoughts of the missed extra-point lingered in everyone’s mind at this point with plenty of time at 10:52 left in the contest.
Striby would drive the kick-off to the Miner 9, where Hunter Johns returned it to the Miner 21. This would be vintage Miner football time: smash mouth ground-and-pound and eating time off the clock. Smith opened things up with another run up-the-middle for 14. A holding penalty pushed the Miners back to their own 26. Two plays later, Kaulin Padgett busted out for a 24-yard blast down the Miner sideline, which gave Linton a much-needed first down. From there, it was back-to-back carries from Smith, Gennicks and Goodman to reach the Pioneer 21. On 1st and 10, Gennicks hit a wide-open Trey Goodman at the 3, and he easily went in for another Miner score. Gennicks rolled out and hit a wide-open Cameron Goodman for the two-point conversion and a 21-7 lead at 6:30 left in the game.
Drew Smith put a leg into kick-off on this occasion, launching it to the Pioneer 14, but Heldman again proved a solid return man getting back to the Providence 46. Any hopes the home folks had for a comeback were stifled by another Eslinger TFL of Gettelfinger. Murphy’s roll out while being pressed by Levi Grounds ended up in a pass for Heldman being picked off by Kaulin Padgett. It was Kaulin’s fourth interception of the year. From their own 38, Linton put the finishing credits on the screen with runs from Gennicks of 27 and another big run from Padgett of 29 to put the Miners ahead 27-7. Miller’s kick looked high and good, but was deemed too wide left. In the last 3:04, the Pioneers found success, and Gettelfinger gained 25 of his total 70 rushing yards. Murphy hit Wall for 26 yards to the Miner 10-yard line. It was Murphy’s first completion of the game. The Miner D was able to keep the Pioneers out of the end-zone as time ran out. Krininger was stopped at the “3” by Braymon Lannan. A 27-7 Linton victory to finish 6-3 on the regular season.
This was a big win for the Miner for a few reasons:
First, this was a long road trip after back to back home games. Two hours plus is a long way sitting on a bus, even if it is a nice chartered bus. This trip from Linton to Tell City is a little longer still. How Linton got off the bus and ready to play at game speed was important to see. Now, in saying that, the ball was on the ground in two of the first three plays of the game for Linton. But… Linton was ready to play on both sides of the ball.
Second, it was hard to tell how Linton would respond to the loss to North Knox in the easy-win over Eastern Greene. Yes, they racked up 56 points and dominated, but that was expected. Providence, even at 3-4, was a good team, who also play some good teams. To see the Miners come out and move the ball offensively and methodically, both run and pass, was good to see, but the defense might have played the best I have seen this year. Providence was befuddled, and you could see it on the sidelines on the player’s faces and the coaching staff trying to coach the kids between snaps. I had Gabe Eslinger down for 16 tackles for the night.
Third and lastly, I think this win shows this team is not ready to give it up yet. Coaches are still coaching as was evident with players getting better and looking for the best combinations and adjustments. Certainly, a solid win like this helps Linton going into a very tough Tell City contest this week.
The Miners racked up 22 first-downs, 403 yards of total offense with 260 of that on the ground with nobody the star, as usual, and four different ball carriers with Kailin Padgett leading the way in yards (86) in just eight carries with a TD. Drew Smith had the grind-it-out yards with 16 carries for 79 tough yards. QB Hunter Gennicks was at 50 yards on 15 carries, but he lost 23 to negative yards on two sacks. Trey Goodman was steady, as always, with 45 yards on 11 carries with a TD. Another nice number was passing yards of 143 for Gennicks on 6 of 9 passing. His two TD’s give him 7 the last two games and 13 for the season. Five different Miners caught a pass, namely: two for Drew Smith for 31 yards, and one each for Breneman (36 TD), Poe (29), Padgett (26) and Goodman (21 TD).
Providence had no first-downs in the first half, and just six for the whole game. They ran for 102 yards on 33 carries (3.09), and an 800-yard rusher, Jeremy Gettelfinger, was held in check for most all of the night finishing with 70 yards on 19 carries and 26 on a late carry. Jaxon Murphy added 22 yards on 8 carries and had the only Pioneer TD. FB Kole Krininger had 5 touches for 15 yards, and Carson Heldman 1 for -5. Passing was also tough sledding for Providence with Murphy hitting on just 1 out of 7. That lone catch was a 26-yard catch-and-run to freshman Brian Wall.
Defensively, it was a gem for the Miners. As mentioned, sixteen total tackles from Junior Gabe Eslinger with 8 of those solo and 4 of those for losses. Certainly, it was his best game of 2020, but much of that success is due to the effort of the interior defensive line. This night was mainly Landon Giles and Jackson Fields at tackles and Levi Grounds and Cameron Goodman at DE. Hunter Johns had an outstanding game at OLB with eight tackles, and Levi Grounds with seven, including a sack and three hurries. The all-around effort was complete with four tackles each from ILB Drew Smith, FS Jaydan Miller, and OLB Braymon Lannan. Providence had some stand-out defensive effort, as well, with LB Craig Bratcher’s 15 tackles, 11 each for Jeremy Gettelfinger and Jaxon Murphy, and 10 from Carson Heldman.
Linton now heads into post-season in Class 2A Sectional 40. It was a tough draw having to drive to meet a Tell City team heavy with Seniors and one of the favorites to move to regional (along with Mater Dei), although I will have a better look at the Marksmen and the matchup perhaps by Thursday. Suffice to say, Tell City is a smash-mouth type offense that is going to be physical. Tell City will be sure to remember Linton from the 76-8 shelling they took at The Roy in opening round sectional 1A of 2015. For those who check scores and see that somehow the Marksmen who were 6-1 going into last week could have lost to previously 1-7 South Spencer last week 35 to 26, pay no need. The Marksmen were without five starters, three of the two-way, due to quarantine issues. All will be back this week. This will be a very tough opponent who have put up five shutouts, defensively, and only a previous loss coming 14-12 to Southridge in a game that came down to a Tell City failed two-point attempt to tie at the end of the game.
I would encourage as many of you as possible to make the long trip to support these Miners as they try to come home with a big win.
- Linton: Trey Goodman 3 Yard Run (Jaydan Miller PAT Kick) 2:20 2nd
- Linton: Bracey Breneman 36 Yard Pass From Hunter Gennicks (Pass Failed) 4:16 3rd
- Providence: Jaxon Murphy 1 Yard Run (Nathan Striby PAT Kick) 10:52 4th
- Linton: Trey Goodman 21-Yard Pass from Hunter Gennicks (Cameron Goodman Pass from Hunter Gennicks) 6:30 4th
- Linton: Kaulin Padgett 29 Yard Run (Miller PAT Fail) 3:04 4th
Featured photo by Austin Gordon Photography