Here is a little preview about Linton, so you have a feel for how things are going as we head into this game with a very good Tell City team. Sure, I know they lost last week, but that would not have happened without five — yes, five — of their kids quarantined at the last minute. Three of those were two-way starters.
Really, I would not have thought South Spencer would win anyway, but they hit a couple long TD passes in the third. Everyone talks about the Marksmen’s defense and understandably so — until last week, they had not even given up more than 17 — and actually had not let anyone score other than Southridge (14) and North Posey (17). That Southridge game was a dogfight. TC was stopped on a 4th down late in the game in Southridge territory, but a bad snap over the QBs head gave Tell City a chance. They had to drive about 60-70 yards, then converted a long 4th down and had to pass, which they don’t do, and finally scored on a pass right at the end. But they ran a two-point play and got stuffed.
We lost 28-0 to Southridge, and we could not do anything offensively. Defense actually did play rather well. But, that was week number one. Linton is much better now than in week one, and they are much better than they showed against NK a few weeks back.
Every week, Linton had improved in various aspects of the game until the NK game. The following week, we learned nothing from slamming Eastern. Going to Providence and dominating them demonstrated the team had re-focused with some changes along the way though. Coaches are still moving kids around, and some kids are just coming into their own at the right time. There is so much more depth now, and more one-way players, but I think we will see the best eleven on the field on both sides of the ball this week regardless.
Tell City starts nine seniors on offense; the Line is all seniors. Defense goes with eight seniors. Linton and TC are alike in that both have four players that carry the ball effectively, and any of the four could start that night.
With Linton, it starts with Hunter Gennicks at QB since week two. He was 572 yards and 10 TDs on 98 carries; tops in all three categories. Drew Smith is more of the up-the-middle tough yards guy with 390 on 71. Trey Goodman, the QB last year and for most of the year prior, moved to WB on his suggestion in week two, and he had 404 yards on 81 carries and 7 TDs. Kaulin Padgett is the fastest Miner, and he was finally allowed to play in week three. He has added 344 yards on 41 touches and 4 scores. All of these guys are at 5 or more yards per carry. All are underclassmen with the exception of Goodman.
For the Marksmen, it is the opposite, as three of their four backs are seniors. The lone junior is QB Aden Dodson. They line up in a wishbone style setup, double tight ends, and everything tight. But they also do the double-wing with the same personnel, as well as spread out putting four receivers double-wide. Their #11, Keaton Lloyd, leads the team in rush yards with 499 and six TDs on just thirty-three carries while #22 Bren Miller adds 395 yards six scores on a team high of sixty-five carries. The FB is Hunter Backport #28 with 41 carries 200 yards and three scores. Dodson adds 220 yards and 47 touches with a team high of seven scores.
Both teams are heavy running teams: Linton has 2,013 yards or 223.67 per game, while Tell City has 1,750 yards or 250.0 per game. Linton has 30 rushing TD’s, while TC has 26. Looking at the rushing attempts: Linton 314 and Tell City 315!
Neither team could say they have a strong passing game, but the numbers show Linton to have an edge; Dodson has only thrown 22 passes in the 8 games I have on file. He is 9 of those 22 for 166 yards, 4 TDs (which proves the defense is certainly not looking for the pass!) and 1 INT. The bulk of this passing came in two games. One was 4-5 for 72 against woeful Springs Valley, but the other was in that tough loss to Southridge. Dodson was forced to go the air on the final TD drive and completed some big passes, including the TD score to Lloyd. He was three of six for 63 yards in that game. They didn’t pass at all in two games, and he was two for eleven in the other three.
In short, they do not pass because they haven’t had too, but it looked like they could in those final minutes against Southridge. They went into a passing set with a SE to either side, usually Miller and #21 Reinecker, and put #11 Lloyd in a slot. He seems to be the go-to guy, as he has four of the catches and both TD’s 981 yards). They have a big TE in #15 Kaiser 6’4 190, but he has no catches that I see, although I did see him at SE one-on-one in several other games. He’s a big target at 6’4.
The Miners will undoubtedly play to stop the run and force the pass — or at least see if the passing game is viable. For me, this means we will get burned on at least one long TD pass. Now, Linton has been working on the passing game all season, and we have double-digit pass attempts in seven of nine games and at least seven in each. I know that’s not mind-blowing numbers, but for Linton it is! Anytime you can add success — even mild success — at passing, it really helps setup the run success.
The problem has always been consistency. One game, Gennicks is on-target, and we can get 120 to 190 yards in the air. But in another game, or even within the same game, he will be too high. Or, he will simply just miss the wide-open target. Teams do not expect Linton to pass, so the opportunity is usually there. I also think Gennicks is maturing, as he has learned to throw the ball away and even just eat it and take the sack, rather than try to force something. Goodman tried to force in week number one and threw three key picks against Southridge that directly led to 14 points. Hunter is 52 of 101 passing, or51.5%, for 830 yards. He has also hit on 13 TD passes against just two interceptions.
The main receiver is #24, Eli Poe, with 24 catches, 315 yards, and 5 TDs. He’s a lanky kid with good hands and goes after the ball. Of course, the wingbacks are part of the passing, such as Goodman with 13 for 191 and 2 TD, Padgett 4 for 113 and 2 TD, and even Smith with a couple screens in 3 catches for 44 yards. We have been using the TE, as well and have a couple of them with Levi Grounds (#8) 2 for 26 and when Bracey Breneman (#44) caught a36-yard score last week. Linton’s #12, Hunter Johns, comes in at WB, as well, and he has two catches for 45 yards and a score. I think it will be key for Linton to complete some short passes and loosen up that Tell City defense because I am sure they will load the box. Also key will be if Gennicks has time to roll out and see the field. An advantage I feel to Linton is Gennicks open field running and his ability to elude; those bootlegs are scary for defenses. He sometimes shows flashes of Tyler Meurer in those situations, but just a sophomore. In fact, in all those names I have mentioned… only Goodman and Grounds are seniors.
Up front, Linton has been battling some level of minor injuries for the last couple weeks. My understanding is that everyone is ready to go this week. It has been consistent, but coaches keep searching and building depth. Seniors and brothers Landon and Damien Giles have been mainstays at Tackle and Center. Damien has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. He was dressed last week, but he didn’t see much action but for a couple plays on defense. In week 3, Sophomore Wrigley Franklin got the start at Guard and has been there ever since. Another sophomore, and younger brother of the Giles twins, Aiden has been at Tackle all year. Junior Donovan DeBruhl has been solid at Tackle, as well. Even better has been the development of depth. Junior Dalton Carpenter is as much a starter as anyone. He stepped in to start at Center in his freshman post-season, and he started all year last year. He has started two or three games this year when anyone has missed time. Levi Grounds is a senior who played O-line all through high school, but rarely saw action. In fact, he was down with a back injury all of last year. He made the switch to Tight End, and he started there all year until last week when suddenly he was back in a lineman’s jersey and starting at Center against Providence! So, there are seven guys, who can step in and play ,and we feel we don’t lose anything. Tell City has an all-senior offensive line. Here is who I saw starting a couple weeks back:
Defense is the supposed specialty of the Tell City squad, and it’s the area that I hear people talk about. I don’t have much in the way of numbers because the opponents haven’t posted much. In fact, they posted just four games. I know they have five shutouts, and they held Southridge to only 14 points. Southridge rushed for 249 against Linton, and they rushed for 185 against Tell City. I know that South Spencer connected on a few big pass play, but that two of the key defensive backfield guys were out last week.
The area led in tackles by Kaiser the big 6’4 kid at safety with 45. The two ILB area next with Miller (38) and Beckort (32). DE Braunecker (29) Mathena (25) and Rockwell (21) round out the top 6. Miller has two picks of a team total of five and 5.0 TFKL. Rockwell leads in TFL with 6, and in Sacks with 3 (team 7). They had a strange formation they used against Southridge, where 3 of the 5 D-linemen stood up. Linebackers had the two (28 and 22) with 11 behind them in a triangle. Against Princeton and S. Spencer, though, it looked more traditional. Their #77 Arthur Cooper, a 6’0 298# Senior, was at DT in a lot of plays that I saw.
Linton Defense has looked like the above. Damien Giles is in as much as Carpenter; they seem to rotate. It’s highly possible that we will be in a 5-3. We ran this a lot earlier in the year with Carpenter at NT. Smith leads the team with 79 tackles, but Eslinger has come on strong. He missed the ½ the Sullivan and all the Never game with an MCL sprain. Since coming back, he’s stayed on the defensive side. He had 16 tackles last week, and he has had 8.5 TFL the last two games. He has 71 tackles, and 15 for loss including 3 sacks. Grounds has really stepped up this year at DE. He has been our pressure guy on QBs, having 6.5 sacks, 7 hurries, as well as 29 tackles. Jaydan Miller has also been a key cog in this defense machine at Safety with 46 tackles. Padgett has five interceptions, and the Miners as a team have twelve. We will rotate guys quite a bit with both Giles brothers in the game, and Breneman spells both Smith and Eslinger at times. Goodman seems to be in on obvious passing downs. I should mention that #17 Cameron Goodman (Jr 6’3 2003) played the whole game last week at DE… prolyl the starter. He missed most all the year with an injury. He’s been special teams a couple weeks, then coaches said he had a tremendous practice week pre-Providence and he started at TE and DE!
My guess is that TC will come out just like NK did, and we’ll see if we can stop their run game. It will be interesting to see if we learned anything from that NK situation. I know the intensity factor will be raised compared to that game, but I know that 2.5 hours in a bus can deflate emotions pretty quick too. Even though most folks know TC was without five starters last week, and they would have won with them, it still probably sticks in their crawl to lose to 1-6 South Spencer. So, that will likely serve as motivation going into Friday.
Linton would have benefitted from a 49-6 TC win Friday more than the loss the Marksmen had. All year, we’ve had trouble with passing teams. We do well for most of the time, but there always seems to be a couple breakdowns that wind up being big scores for the opposition. The DBs are gonna have to be safe against that. A five-man front means just three DB’s, although Johns at OLB and Goodman (if he is in) are both former CB’s.
The other big issue in this game is protection for Gennicks. TC has a stunt defense, and we may have trouble with an inside game. I think we could have trouble with TC disrupting the counter traps and things Linton typically runs if they can drive our lineman back. Being able to pass the ball to hold back that rush might be the thing that gives the Miners an edge. If we get dominated upfront, well, it could be a long night, and a long trip home.
Featured photo by Austin Gordon Photography