As the full moon rose over Roy Williams Field on a clear and cold night, Linton’s Miners advanced to their first 2A Sectional since being pushed up due to success factor in 2017. Roy Williams Field was beautiful green, but beneath those blades of grass held the weeklong rain-fueled sludge that soon turned into mud pits in certain areas.
Linton put up 47 points in a variety of ways that included 3 points from Hunter Gennicks on runs of 65 and 29, and Linton’s first kickoff return TD (71 yards) of 2020. He also hit on long TD passes to Kaulin Padgett of 45 yards and to Trey Goodman of 39. The Defense produced five turnovers, four of those interceptions — and two of those from Jaydan Miller. The 47-17 win over North Posey was the third win in a row for Linton with each of those occurring at The Roy.
Things did not start so rosy in Miner Land though. After holding NP to a three-and-out to start the game, Linton’s Offense seemed flat themselves. Two possessions gained 7 yards, and both ended up Jaydan Miller punts. In fact, Linton did not get a first down until a 23-yard Goodman run on the first play of the second quarter. Meanwhile, the Vikings were chipping away on their second drive with quick passes from southpaw QB Harold Bender and short runs from Brady Reidford. NP converted a 3rd and 6 with a Bender-to-Jaxon Wiggins pass and run of 19 yards, and another 3rd and 4 on a pass to Dalton Reidford, both set the Vikings 1st and goal at Linton’s 11. There, the Miner D stood strong starting with a Gabe Eslinger stop of the RB Reidford for a 2-yard loss, and two incompletions. Dalton Reidford then drilled a 30-yard Field Goal down-the-middle of the uprights, giving North Posey a 3-0 lead at 4:35 of the first quater.
After the Miner’s second point in as many series, The Vikings got an initial first-down to the Miner 47. A false start pushed them back to the Miner 48 though. The first of four interceptions on the night was nothing more than the tip drill. Bender’s pass intended for Reidford was tipped by Jaydan Miller straight up, where Drew Smith caught it and gained a couple yards back to the Miner 40. As mentioned, Linton finally moved the chains with the Goodman run to start the second quarter. Gennicks connected with his split-end, Eli Poe, for 15 more yards with Goodman hitting another 14 on a run to the North Posey 1. From there, it was a leaping Drew Smith up-and-over for Linton’s first points at the 10:14 mark of the second quarter; however, it would stay 6-3, as Miller’s PAT was blocked by Lucas Bass of NP.
The Vikings would be forced to punt in their next possession after getting a first-down on a Bender-to-Wiggins pass. Landen Giles and Smith teamed up to stop RB Dylan Teeter on a third-down run. Reidford’s punt pinned Linton at their own 11, and it was still 3rd-and-10 after the Miners were stopped twice for no gain. Senior LB Wyatt Willman was involved in fourteen tackles on this night, including both of these. The passing game provided the big play needed, as Gennicks hit Goodman short at the 14, where Trey broke tackles up the North Posey sideline to the 35 for a gain of 24 — and a big first down. It was big because the next snap saw Gennicks keep on the read play, head up-the-middle untouched off a block from Dalton Carpenter, and then 65 yards to pay dirt. Gennicks’ pass for Bracey Breneman on the two-point play was incomplete, but now the Miners were up 12-3 with 5:59 remaining in the second quarter.
The avalanche was in it’s beginning stages. The Vikings shot themselves in the foot with a holding penalty that negated a long screen play forcing a 2nd-and-25, but they got 20 back on a Bender-to-Reidford pass. On 3rd-and-5, though, Bender rolled out under pressure from Carpenter, then Eslinger slammed into Bender just as he fired downfield. The pass sailed over Devin Lintzenich and into Jaydan Miller’s chest. Miller returned the pick 17 yards to the North Posey 45. It was doubly bad for NP as QB Bender would not return from an apparent hand injury that occurred on the play. In addition, they had lost their starting RB Brady Reidford to a lower-leg issue. Linton struck quickly, but a perfectly-placed pass to a perfectly wide-open Padgett at the Viking 25 was dropped. Despite a 12-yard third down Goodman run, Padgett was stopped just a yard short by Willman forcing a turnover on downs at the NP 38.
The Vikings now had Jaxon Wiggins at QB, who played the position all of 2019, but he didn’t have much chance in this possession as on play two, Teeter ran right and into Smith, Breneman, Padgett, and Braymon Lannan. Somewhere in that pile, the ball popped out and defensive end Cameron Goodman was “Johnny-on-the-spot,” scooping it up at the Viking 39 and reaching the 30 before a last-ditch tackle brought him down. It took one play and another perfectly-thrown ball from Gennicks to Goodman caught at the 9 and straight in for the 30-yard TD toss. Gabe Eslinger powered over for the two-point conversion, giving Linton a 20-3 advantage 3:34 to play before half-time. The Miner scoring barrage was not over though. NP was quickly forced to punt after one first-down pass from Wiggins to the younger Reidford gained 11. With 2:13 remaining from their own 40, the Miners got another nice run from Goodman of 10 yards, and they eventually were looking at a 3rd and 10 at the NP 45. Gennicks took a big hit from Bass and Jaxson Bender, as he released a long-pass downfield to a wide-open Kaulin Padgett. This was identical to the play where the pass was dropped. This time, though, the pass was a big wobbly, but Padgett made the grab at the Viking 23 and easily out ran the defense to the end zone. It was sweet repentance for Kaulin, and it put Linton up 26-3. Gennicks hit Eslinger on a quick out for two more points and a 28-3 Linton lead with just 0:49 left in the first-half. The half would end on a Lannan tackle of Teeter for just a yard gain, then Eslinger slamming Wiggins for a 7-yard loss.
The first quarter was Viking controlled, 71 to 32 in total offense, but Linton exploded in the second quarter 237 to 39 in total yardage and 28 unanswered points. Three turnovers played a detrimental role for North Posey, and Linton’s balance of 128 passing and 141 rushing for 269 total was proving to be a great combination. The Defense, other than one North Posey drive for a field goal, was on-target against the run game. They had allowed just 22 yards on 16 carries, while giving up 88 in the air on 9 of 18 attempts.
Like Linton, the Vikings would squib most of the kick-offs, and they nearly caught the Miners on the opening second-half kick. Bracey Breneman was able to corral the ball at the Miner 40 though. The Viking defense, however, came out fired-up, and they forced a three-and-out with Willman in on all three stops. More worrisome for Linton was the injury to Kaulin Padgett, which was apparently caused from slipping on a cut upfield and landing awkwardly. He remained on the sidelines for the remainder of the game, but he did not seem to need medical attention. Miller’s punt was a line-drive that likely would have bounced 15 yards, but an alert Lintzenich snatched it out of the air at the Viking 46 and surprised the Miner Punt Team. It was Miller, who tracked him down, but not until he reached the Miner 37.
The Vikings had done precisely what they needed to do to start the second half and get back in the contest. All except they did not take advantage of the field position. The Miner defense again rose to the occasion: first, with Cameron Goodman knocking down a Wiggins pass at the line of scrimmage, then Brenneman and Lannan combining to halt Teeter at the 35. It was Wiggins who tried to hit Lintzenich inside the Miner 10, but he had slipped on the cut. The pass — already well-defended — was easily intercepted by Eli Poe at the Miner 6.
Linton wasted no time in putting together their best drive of the night. Eslinger busted for an 18-yard run on a second down out to the 29. A 6-yard run from Smith sandwiched between Gennick’s passes to Poe and Eslinger had Linton at the Viking 48. Eslinger powered loose for another long run of 17, then added a 6-yard run that was pushed another 10 by a personal foul call against NP. The Miners found themselves 1st and goal at the 10. Linton was 32 of 36 in Red Zone at this point, but Goodman’s carry to the Viking 3 ended up a fumble. The resulting pile-up went North Posey’s way in the end. Nine plays over 92 yards with four first-downs in the process was a chance to truly send North Posey fans packing. Instead, QB Wiggins on the very next snap dodged a tackle and busted free down the Viking sideline. Linton’s Hunter Johns raced across the field to knock Wiggins out at the Miner 36 for a gain of 61 yards. Again, the Miner D stiffened, but on 4th and 8 Wiggins sent an arc of a pass along the Miner sideline that perfectly dropped into Clay Douglas’ basket, despite coverage from Padgett. The result was a 34-yard TD pass. Along with Reidford’s perfect PAT, that pulled North Posey to 28-10 with 3:51 in the third.
All that energy and good feeling within Coach Schenk’s crew and players was gone in 11 seconds. You have to go back to 2016 in a Sectional game with Tecumseh for the last Miner kick-off return for a score; that being a 91-yarder from Tyler Meurer. This time, it was Hunter Gennicks catching the ball at the Linton 29, taking a step or two to the left, then shooting up an opening; it was off-to-the-races and he was untouched for 71 yards. Jaydan Miller put the PAT through and the dagger was sunk, 35-10 Miners.
Credit goes to the Vikings, though, because there was no quit. Wiggins hit Lucas Bass at the Miner 30, and he got to the 15 before Miller made the stop. It looked like Wiggins had made a great pass to Douglas coming across the back of the end zone, but it was ruled out-of-bounds. A pass to Bass looked like a for-sure TD, but it was ruled that it hit the ground. Wiggins’ fourth down pass to Lintzenich was knocked away by Poe, giving the Miners the ball at their own 12. Gennicks nearly hit Cameron Goodman at the Miner 40, as Lintzenich tipped it away last minute; still, Goodman nearly reeled it in though. On 3rd and 12, a beautifully-executed pass-play with Trey Goodman wide-open in a wheel route looked to be the next big play of the night, and Gennicks put it on the mark in stride at the Miner 20. Of course, the art of catching a football is different than catching any other ball in any other sport though: it’s an odd shape, it was pretty dang cold that night, and then there was mud and slush and wet involved, plus you are running full-speed with an assortment of gear strapped on you. It does not always go as you hope, and it certainly did not on this pass, causing Linton to punt with a nice return by Reidford from the Viking 37 back to the Miner 25.
Another scoring opportunity for the Vikings, and they would cash in on this one. Wiggins found Douglas to the Miner 9, then it was Wiggins who kept the ball on a fake and ran untouched for a Viking TD with just 34 seconds left in the third quarter. Reidford again drilled the PAT, and the Miners now led 35-17. This time, Reidford’s kick-off was indeed a true on-side kick, and it was perfect. It rolled toward the NP sideline the required 10 yards and looked as if several Vikings were set to claim it. Lunging forward at the last second was Miner Sophomore Canaan Bowers, who was sure-handed despite the field conditions and covered the ball up at midfield. Hunter Gennicks continued to shine first with a 15-yard burst that ended the third quarter, then two plays later it was a high snap that Hunter snagged turning upfield using an Aiden Giles block and 29 yards for his third score of the night. Miller was off on the PAT, but Linton was up 41-17 just into the fourth.
Still the Vikings fought, and it was Wiggins under pressure from Levi Grounds, who got to the perimeter and made some nice open field moves for a 3- yard scamper to the Miner 35 on first-down after the kick-off. They converted a 3rd and 8 on a Wiggins-to-Lintzenich 10-yard pass to the Miner 23. Linton started bringing the heat with pressure from Carpenter, Lannan, Eslinger, and Jackson Fields. On 4th and 12, Wiggins was hit by Fields as he tried to thread the needle to Lintzenich again at the Linton 11. OLB Hunter Gennicks, who rarely hits the field defensively since his move to QB in week two, made the initial play knocking the ball away from Lintzenich, but it was Miller Time as he caught the ball on the fly returning it 15 yards to the Miner 26. From here on out, it was truly just a matter of running plays until the end of the game, yet there was 8:33 left. Linton would run three plays, then Miller punted to the NP 30. The Vikings also had a three-and-out, but it bears mentioning that an Eslinger tackle for a loss on Lintzenich of 9 yards thwarted what appeared to be a trick play forming. The excitement at the end was the JV team getting on the field and moving the ball well. Thomas Edwards and Logan Walker each had carries of five-plus yards, then Edwards went in from 9-yards out with 1:35 left for the final points.
The 47-17 win put Linton into this Friday’s Sectional Championship with Evansville Mater Dei. The Wildcats advanced by way of a hard-fought win at North Knox 30-19. A game that was 23-19 with two minutes left. The Warriors had leads of 12-0 and 19-16, but the Wildcats made a big defensive stop late to really capture the win. At 7-4, Mater Dei is the reigning Sectional 40 champions. They lost to Triton Central 13-7 in Regionals in 2019. The program under twenty-four year icon Mike Goebel is a perennial post-season terror since it has played in a sectional championship game every year dating back to 2008. Southridge had been their biggest foe as the Raiders beat the Cats in both 2017 and 2018 finales. They won Sectionals 2014-2016 and 2009-2012. Fortunately, the game will be at The Roy in Linton. Hopefully, fans will be allowed to be there in-person to help give the Miners the intensity a home crowd needs to bring. At the same time, we know this Covid-19 issue is a huge health and safety concern too. Linton has met and lost to Mater Dei to my knowledge three times: (1.) once in post-season 1993 32-0, (2.) more recently 40-12 in 2018 at The Roy, and (3.) last year 44-20 at the Reitz Bowl.
N.Posey: Dalton Reidford 30 Yard Field Goal. 4:30 1st
Linton: Drew Smith 2 Yard Run (PAT Blocked by Lucas Bass) 10:14 2nd
Linton: Hunter Gennicks 65 Yard Run (Pass Fail) 5:59 2nd
Linton: Trey Goodman 39 Yard Pass From Hunter Gennicks (Gabe Elsinger Run) 3:34 2nd
Linton: Kaulin Padgett 45 Yard Pass From Hunter Gennicks (Gennicks to Eslinger Pass) 0:49 2nd
N.Posey: Clay Douglas 34 Yard Pass From Jaxon Wiggins (Dalton Reidford PAT) 3.41 3rd
Linton: Hunter Gennicks 71 Yard Kickoff Return (Jaydan Miller PAT) 3:30 3rd
N.Posey: Jaxon Wiggins 8 Yard Run (Dalton Reidford PAT) 0:34 3rd
Linton: Hunter Gennicks 29 Yard Run (Kick Fail) 11:05 4th
Linton: Thomas Edwards 9 Yard Run (Pass Fail) 1:35 4th
H.Gennicks: 8-119 (2 TD); T.Goodman: 10-66; G.Eslinger 6-60; D.Smith 6-16 (TD); T.Edwards 2-15 (TD); K.Padgett 5-13; L.Walker 1-5; TEAM: 38-294 7.74 per carry
North Posey Rushing:
J.Wiggins 8-97 (TD); B.Reidford 7-24; D.Teeter 11-2; H.Bender 1-1; D.Lintzenich 1-(9); TEAM: 28-115 4.11
Linton: H.Gennicks 9-16-148-2-0
North Posey: J.Wiggins 7-18-108-1-2; H.Bender 8-15-77-0-2 (Team: 15-33-185-1-4)
Linton: T.Goodman 5-71 (TD); K.Padgett 1-45 (TD); E.Poe 2-23; G.Eslinger 1-9
North Posey: C.Douglas 3-56 (TD); D.Reidford 5-46; L.Bass 2-36; J.Wiggins 2-28; D.Lintzenich 2-19; D.Teeter 1-1
First Down: Linton 18 North Posey 13
3rd Down: Linton 3-9 North Posey 4-13 4th Down: Linton 0-1 North Posey 1-3
Red Zone: Linton 2-3 North Posey 2-3
Penalties: Linton 2-10 North Posey 5-40
Total Yards: Linton 442 North Posey 300
Turnovers: Linton 1 North Posey 5
Punts: Linton 5 North Posey 4
PAT: Linton 1-3 North Posey 2-2
2 Point Att: Linton 2-4
Featured photo by Austin Gordon Photography