Sullivan comes to ‘The Roy’ to face the unbeaten Miners tonight

If you are from this area in Southwestern Indiana, and a sports fan, you need no prodding to know of this rivalry between the Arrows and the Miners.  Separated by 15 miles of Highway 54, these two have met 107 times with Linton leading the series 54-51-2.  The Miners have been dominant on late winning 10 of the last 12 meetings, and 21 of the last 27.

Last year the Arrows struck first and led 7-0, but Linton put up the next 27 points to win 34 to 21.  2020’s Overtime  win for the Miners was then-sophomore Hunter Gennicks first start as a Miner, and he scored the winning points on a QB run to win 22 to 16,  Sullivan, in Coach Blaine Powell’s final year, finished 7-3 falling in the sectional championship to Owen Valley.  The Miners would roll undefeated before losing 28-27 to Evansville Mater Dei in sectional championship.

Now, 2022 brings changes with Head Coach Mike Caton moving up to lead the Arrows.  But more so, a change in Sectional assignments put Sullivan and Linton in 2A Sectional 37.  Sullivan also moved down in class from 3A to 2A, and the Miners moved from a sectional dominated by Mater Dei the last four years. Other teams in Sectional 37 include Cascade, Greencastle, North Knox, North Putnam, South Vermillion and Southmont.  The Arrows started the year with wins at North Knox 31-12 and at Sportland Field over South Vermillion 24-14.  The big matchup with unbeaten Northview which many though was for the WIC title, went 28-7 for the Knights in Brazil last week.  Linton meanwhile has put up 172 points in wins over Parke Heritage (56-6), North Vermillion (64-15) and 52-27 over previous unbeaten Monrovia.  Those 172 points (57.3ppg) are those most scored in the 1st three games going back at least pre 1994, and I’m guessing not surpassed.  Being in the same class, and same sectional adds another dimension to this rivalry.

Linton is unquestionably led by Sr QB Hunter Gennicks (#14, 6’0 195).  He has had back to back 160+ rushing games for a total 415 on 23 touches with 7 TDs.  Sr Hunter Johns (#12, 5’8 180) has tallied 7 scores and has 270 yards rushing on 22 carries, also with two 100+ yard games.  These two, dubbed “The Firm” of Hunter & Hunter are responsible for 685 yards of the teams 1,044 and 14 of Linton’s 20 rush TDs.  But they are far from the only weapons on a Miner offense averaging 458.7 total offense, 348.0 of that coming on the ground game.  Soph Jesse Voigtschild (#8, 5’7 150) is undersized but finds the opening and is quick, adding 94 yards on 11 touches with 3 of those TD runs.  Jr Braden Walters (#16 6’5 190) has 79 yards on 8 carries and a score in 2 games played, Jr Ashton White (#33 6’0 195) at FB, and Soph Eli Scott (#21, 5’9 150) at WB (started week one) could also see action. 

Gennicks has been on target hitting on 24 of 40 for 332 yards 4 TDs and no picks passing the ball.  The Passing game accounts for just over 110 yards per game and features a load of basketball players with 6’4 205 Sr Logan Webb #23, & 6’3 205 Fr Paul Oliver #13.  Webb has 9 receptions for 93 yards and a TD, Oliver 3 for 22 and a score.  Linton’s WB’s figure highly in the scheme of passing, and Walter’s @ 6’5 has been a big play guy with 9 catches for 130 yards and a TD.  Voigtschild has 2 for 80 yards and a long TD score. The starting line, otherwise known as the “Trench Dawgs”, have been a dominating group.   Left side manned by Tackle Soph Hank Gennicks (#69, 6’2 250) and Guard Sr Wrigley Franklin (#51 6’3 225); Right side Tackle Jr Jacob Breedlove) #77 6’7 300) and Guard Sr Aiden Giles (#56, 6’3 200).  The Center is Sr Nathan Watson (#74, 6’0 255). 

This group faced a huge Monrovia defensive front and paved paths for 353 rushing yards last week.  They’ve been very physical with Gennicks and Franklin each 10 pancake blocks, Giles and Breedlove with 6 each, Watson adding 5. 

The Golden Arrows return 3 starters from this matchup in 2021 but loaded with seniors at 7.  They will lineup NT Gunner Bowman (#66, Sr, 5’9 265) with Senior Ends Skyler Boone (#58 5’10 210) and Cody Adams (#3 5’10 190).   Bowman and Adams both starters last year.  At Middle Linebacker stands Sr Lane Deckard (#28, 5; 8 190) with Outside Backers Sr Joshua Wence (#5 5’11 175) and Jr Camden Singer (#72, 6’3 225).  Wence is 2nd on tackles with 24 and 4 TFL. Singer with 14.  Sullivan run 5 DBs with 3 safeties- returning starter Sr Luke Adams (#1, 5’11 170), Soph DJ Gaines (#32, 5’10 165) and Jr Seth Portlet (#8, 5’10 155).  Gaines leads the Arrows with 28 tackles.  The corners are Junior Isaak Osborne (#4, 5’9 160) and Senior Eli Gettinger (#47, 6’3 175).   Sullivan has given up 352.3 yards per game and North Knox and Northview had success running with 304 and 381 on the ground, while holding S.Vermillion to just 34.  However the Wildcats put up 25 passes gaining 255 in the air. 

On offense for Sullivan it’s Senior Rowdy Adams (#2, 5’10 175) who runs and passes well.  He is 20 of 35 for 260 yards, 2 TDs and 1 pick, hitting 57% of his tosses thus far in 2022.  He threw for 136 and 2 scores again Linton in 2021. He along with FB Deckard have accounted for most of Sullivan’s run game.  The Arrows average 261.0 of offense,  123.7 on the ground of which Deckard has 149 on 39 carries, Adams, 136 on 26. Both have 2 rushing scores. Sr Joshua Wence (#5 5’11 175) has 6 carries for 40 yards and a TD). 

Northview’s defense knocked that average down holding Sullivan to just 87 rush yards, where they had 161 and 123 to start the year. Adams missed much of week 2’s win over South Vermillion but Jr Jonathan WIley (#15 5’10 175) came in to pass 12 of 22 for 118 yards and a TD plus run for 37 and another TD.  Gone are William Newby, 6’5 Jackson Hills, Carter McKey and Randy Kelley from 2021, with a new set of receivers led by Sr #1 Luke Adams with 15 catches for 127 yards and a score.  Newcomer James Propes (#16 6’3 185) has 108 yards and a score on his 5 receptions, #34 Gaines with 8 for 80, and Sr Evan Royer (#9 5’9 190) with 4 for 32.  Sullivan averages 137.3 per game in the air.  3 starter return from ’21 on the offensive with LG Sr Mason Drake (#56 5’10 200), RT Jr Sebastian Ortiz (#65 6’1 275) and RG Sr Lucas Copenhaver (#61 6’1 270).  Copenhaver moved from Center where Sr Gunner Bowman (#66 5’9 265) is in ’22.  LT Jr Camden Singer (#72 6’3 225) rounds out the OL. 

Linton’s defense may have had concern with the losses from graduation, but through 3 games they have allowed just 253.33 per game, and much of that coming against the scrubs in running clock second halves.  Monrovia was a powerful rushing team put up 219 on the ground, but also scored on some big wide open pass plays.  Linton held their 1st two opponents to less than 100 rushing.  A revamped Linebacker unit of ILB’s Sr Braydn Cox (#5, 5’10 185) and Sr Aiden Giles (#56 6’3 200) split time with Jr Ashton White (#33 6’0 195) and Fr Russell Goodman (#6’2 180) along with OLB’s Sr Wrigley Franklin (#51 6’3 225) and Fr Paul Oliver (#13 6’3 205). This group has performed well with White the leading tacklers with 24, Franklin 18.5 with 4 for loss and a couple sacks.  Cox with 18 and Oliver adding 4 TFL and a sack.  Franklin and Oliver each a 6; 3” have several pass blocks at the LOS as well.   Up front Linton uses quickness and hard nose playing from Jr Christian Shonk (#4, 5; 10 180) at NT and he had 4 TFL and a QB sack to his credit. On either side is Jr Ty Boyd (#9 6’1 210) and Soph Hank Gennicks (#69 6’2 250) at DT’s.  Boyd has 1.5 TFL. We have also seen Sr Nathan Watson at NT as sell as Jr Blane Kirkman (#79 5’10 25) and Fr Linkyn Yarber (#65 5; 11 215) at DT.  Eli Scott (Soph #21 5’9 150) shows up at OLB as well.

The Defensive Backfield will be tested with Sullivan spread offense which is very close to North Vermillion’s style but with some better athletes and experience.  Linton changed defenses against Monrovia’s rush heavy offense, but should be back in their familiar, and I suspect, more comfortable 3-4-4.  This features Corners Sr Logan Webb (#23 6’4 205) and Soph Jesse Voigtschild (#8 5’7 150).  Veterans Gennicks and Johns are at Safety both with speed to catch about anyone.  Gennicks and Voigtschild, along with Boyd have picks for Linton, Gennicks’ went 67 yards for a score.  Voigtschild had one last week overturned by an inadvertent whistle nobody heard.  Linton has put Soph Hayden Feltner (#15 6’1 165) at CB and could possible use Jr Braden Walters (#16 6’5 190). Gennicks has 16 stops in run support, Feltner with 13 in limited action.  All in all a solid group that will only improve as the season prevails.  Out of the 253.3 per game allowed, 121.67 comes against rush, 113.67 in the air. 

Sullivan has shown a good balance of run (123) and pass (137).  I suspect the Arrows will try to establish a ground attack to lure the DBs into run support then catch the Miners with blown coverages for big plays if not scores.   North Vermillion in a similar set could not run the ball and their talented QB Jerome White had to air it out 23 times hitting on 10 but all under 10 yard passes, one of which was a WR screen behind the LOS that went 37 for a score.   Sullivan has, in the past, always utilized big tall physical tight end types who run in slots causing a difficult matchup for Miner defenders.  Think 6’5 215 Jackson Hills and 6’0 235 Jackson Shake from year past.  This year with two 6’3 OLBs, and a 6’4 corner, and possible another at 6’5 things may be more even.  Other than Propes at 6’3” the Arrows are under 6’0” in WR. 

One are that is glaring in its favor to Sullivan has to be special teams, and more specific- in PAT and Place Kicking.  Sullivan has Sr Giuseppe Leone who is 8 of 8 in PAT kicks, and 2 of 4 on Field goals with a long of 43.  This means from around the Miner 25 Sullivan can put points on the board with his leg, and you can be about 100% sure a touchdown will be 7 points and not 6.  Plus, he has kicked off 17 times with a 55+ yard average.  He is also the punter.  In a close game, a good place kicker can be the difference in a one point loss.  Consequently, Linton has not looked good on a PAT kick this season.  4 misses, and another 2 had bad snaps that didn’t give the kicker a chance.  In fairness the bad snaps did not give Jose’ Sevilla-Garcia a chance to show his ability, and he was 9-13 last year splitting with 2 other kickers.  Linton should be well-versed in 2-point plays, and actually have been 11 of 19 (3 of 5 running, 6-11 passing, with 1 attempt a sack, the other two bad snaps winding up unsuccessful.  Kicking has been ugly at 0-6 counting the bad snaps.  I can only hope we stay ahead of the score and not have to chase points or Sevilla-Garcia and the Miner kick team have put in extra work this week!   

Linton has only punted 2 times this year, but Paul Oliver has handled those well, including a nice high 35 yard kick last week.  Braden Walters took over Kick offs in week 2 and usually hits a high enough kick for good coverage averaging 35+ per kick. Russell Goodman averages 37+ in week 1.  I would say both teams have explosive return men capable of breaking a big play at any time.  Luke Adams has a 40 yard kick return and Isaak Osborne has a 21 yarder.  Hunter Johns has a 40 yard punt return for Linton as well with Jesse Voigtschild a threat as well.  I should mention Linton always gets pressure on the punter, with Oliver having 2 blocks and nearly 2 others, Franklin with a tip as well. 

It’s a well-documented rivalry with as many tales of off the field antics as much as on the field plays. The result of this game a year’s worth of bragging rights of which Linton has earned the bulk of in recent years.  For Sullivan, the passing away of would be senior Jeremiah Vernelson is a source of great energy in Arrow-Land, and certainly something that transcends the sport or any rivalry.  Linton’s baseball team showing respect by hanging a jersey in their dugout with Vernelson’s jersey number an example.  Another factor has to be the rankings this week in both AP and Indiana Coaches with the Miners moving to #1 for the 1st in their 2A years. 

Nothing more could motivate the Arrows than to go to Roy Williams Field in Linton and knock the hated Miners from their perch atop the state rankings and from a quest for an undefeated season.  But as I type this, I know Linton’s Coaching Staff with Head Coach Brian Oliver, Coordinators Jake and Mark Gennicks, from the assistants down to the youth coaches there will be a constant theme.  You don’t lose to Sullivan. These are the games you talk about years later over a sandwich at McDonalds, a beer at the VFW or Sportsman’s Pub, at family reunions where brothers, Uncles, Fathers and Son… even Grandfathers relish tales of games gone by.  You can never go back to play it again.  Give it your all the first time around, and usually for Seniors it’s your last crack at the Arrows, and vice versa.  But this year being in the same sectional means a possible rematch. For this year’s seniors at Linton, it is a chance to go 4-0 against Sullivan. 

Games like these are big time those young men suiting up in Red and Blue and running down that sideline carrying the battle flags, then up the tunnel as they are introduced.  These are times they need to see, feel and hear the Miner Faithful in person in the flesh at the Roy.  Last week’s opening home game with Monrovia was a pleasant site to see a large turnout with end zones and stands full.  But it can be more.  The weather is supposed to be perfect for Friday Night Football. 

The Miners need your support, and you can bet Sullivan will bring their throng of support.  Let’s make this happen! Kickoff is at 7:00PM.

Miners and Arrows, where else would you want to be?

Featured photo is by Austin Gordon of the Linton vs Sullivan in 2021.

%d bloggers like this: