Linton’s Miners wasted little time, in fact just 13 seconds, to put North Knox on notice. The Warriors hopes of knocking unbeaten 2A Linton and their Homecoming off their perch at 2A #1 took a nose dive. NK’s bread and butter run game was held by my account to only 32 total rush yards, which — to be fair — included an 11-yard sack by Aiden Giles.
Lacking a passing attack, all the Warriors could do was keep pounding away hopeful of a breakthrough run, or that the Linton Defense would fall asleep on a pass play that could bring some positive yardage. As it was, neither condition appeared, and the Miners potent offense racked up 258 of their 375 total yards in the 1st half. It was as balanced an attack as we’ve seen in Linton with an equal 129 yards rushing and passing by the break and finished 202 rushing and 173 passing. Meanwhile North Knox was held to just 36 total yards, with 4 yards on 2 of 7 passing.
NK started off with gains of 9 and 6 from their leading rushers Carter Lemberg and Caleb Bottum. Little did anyone think that those 15 yards would be nearly half their rushing total for the game. Bottum came in with 961 yards rushing, with Lemberg 693. They left with a combined 44 (Lemberg 26 Bottum 18). That initial 1st down would be the first of 3 on the night, and would end on a 3rd and 8 pass to Bottum that was halted by Hunter Gennicks 3 yards short forcing a Mason Lyons punt. Linton proceeded to march 61 yards in 12 plays in 4:03 to score again with a Gennicks to cousin Paul Oliver for an 11-yard TD pass. Nathan Frady drilled both PATs and Linton was up 14-0 at the 4:15 mark of quarter 1. The drive was highlighted by a Jesse Voigtschild run of 17 down the NK sideline, and a Gennicks run of 5 on a 4th and 2 and the NK 36. An Offside penalty gave Linton 5 yards as it had been 4th and 7.
North Knox punted on 3 and outs on each of their next 4 possessions with the 5th earning their 2nd first down and midfield but electing to go to the half down 28-0. The Miners appeared to be taking their 3rd possession down the field for another score but on from the Warrior 5 Braden Walters was stripped of the ball by Lane Adams while surging forward at the NK 2. The play before was another terrific Gennicks to Oliver pass play with Paul leaping to make the grab for a gain of 38. The Freshman had a stellar night with 2 TD receptions and 106 receiving yards on 5 catches. Gennicks hit 5 different teammates with passes, and that was without senior Logan Webb making a catch. Webb missed the 2nd half as a precautionary measure but remained a target early with 4.
Linton scored twice in the 2nd Quarter, with Gennicks 14th rushing TD of the year from 3 yards out at the 9:35 mark. Frady’s kick was short, but Linton was up 20-0. This drive saw Voigtschild with a 23-yard catch and run from Gennicks. Another young Miner, the sophomore has been consistent starting on both sides of the ball. The next drive saw Linton again on a solid march of 75 yards on 9 plays but dodged a couple bullets. First a wide receiver screen was blown up by NK’s Kale Jones at the Miner 30 and should have been an easy pick 6 but he was unable to corral it. Facing 4th and 4 Oliver tucked the ball instead of punting, and rambled 20 yards to the Warrior 49. This was the 2nd time we’ve seen Oliver do that, but this time it kept the drive alive. Walters contributed with a physical 12 yard run, then on 3rd and 4 from the NK 31, Oliver once more made a great catch behind 2 NK defenders in the Warrior end zone. Voigtschild ran in the 2-point conversion at 4:39 for the 28-point margin. Linton had one other opportunity before halftime after a screen pass to Hunter Johns gained 12 to the Warrior 44, but a holding penalty a couple plays later put the Miners behind the chains and on 4th and 8 Gennicks just missed Oliver at the Warrior 10 as Kade Grotegruth got a hand up to knock it away.
The 2nd Half started good for North Knox as Lemberg got a quick 6 yards, with a 15-yard penalty pushing the ball to midfield, and the 3rd NK first down of the game. It would be their last. Stops by Wrigley Franklin, Paul Oliver, Jesse Voigtschild, Hunter Gennicks left a 4th and 3 at the Miner 46. NK shot themselves in the foot as Warrior QB Lyons scrambled from the pressure of Freshman Russell Goodman and converted the 4th down only to have it brought back by a holding call to the Miner 47 and another Lyons punt excellently downed at the Linton 13. The Miners did not come out strong from halftime on offense and a flag pushed the Miners back to their 10, and back to back incompletions forced the Oliver punt of 34. The only Miner 3 and Out of the game. Another Warrior opportunity from the Miner 44 proved to be another punt, although Voigtschild almost ended the drive the play before with an interception drop that he’ll likely remember more than anything else.
Linton then took 4:44 off the close on a 13 play 76-yard drive that ended with Walters going in from 5 yards out. This march had several big plays, including a 17 yard Gennicks run; a 16 yard Gennicks to Walters hook-up; another Voigtschild run (11 yards), and a 10 yard pass to sophomore Hayden Feltner. Frady’s kick set the running clock rule in motion at 3:01 in the 3rd with Linton ahead 35-0. It would increase to 42-0 just into the 4th quarter as Lyons pass to Bottum on the Miner Sideline was tugged away by Gennicks at the North Knox 40 where for the 2nd time this year he shot through the NK offense turned defense for an interception return score. It was Hunter’s 3rd pick, and actually his 3rd score had an official kept the flag in his pocket. Frady was true down the middle for a great night of PAT kicking hitting 4 of 5. All that was left was the clock burning the last 11:07 to move Linton to 7-0. Goodman and Ty Boyd combined on a 4 yard TFL; Christian Shonk and Franklin as well as Aiden Giles had big hits late in the game. Ashton White was key early on, and had 2 late tackles as well. Senior Bradyn Cox had a 9 yard run, and Oliver had a 7 yard run on a QB keeper (his first action at QB this year). Another oddity that ended up being a ‘no-play’ and a re-do of which I have no idea the ruling: NK’s Aven Saucerman bolted through the Miner line to the secondary and took a big hit from Gennicks that popped the ball loose but bounced into the hands of another NK player who ran another couple yards before Gennicks tackled him. 2 tackled on one play?! The officials brought the ball back to the original line of scrimmage and kept it 1st and 10, so I’m now sure how unless it was another case of the “inadvertent whistle”. The game essentially ended as Giles tracked down back up QB Brennan Messel for a sack that produced a flag for (I’m guessing here) unnecessary roughness as he through Messel to the ground.
Gennicks led Linton with 57 yards on 11 carries with a score. He also leads the Miners with 845 yards rushing. Hunter Johns had 8 carries for 46 yards, 556 for the year with 10 rush TDs. Voigtschild finished with 37 yards on 5 carries, Walters 23 on 5, Oliver 27 on 2. Cox had 1 carry for 9, Cody Pigg 2 for 3. Gennicks was 11 for 22 passing for 173 with 2 TDs. He has 12 passing TDs on the year, 1 pick in 68 of 112 passing for the season. 958 passing yards on 60.7% completion percentage. Besides Oliver’s stellar night of 106 receiving yards on 5 catches (2 TD). Walters and Voigtschild each had a couple catches (Walters 24, Voigtschild 21). Johns 1 for 12, Feltner 1 for 10.
Miner Defense was led by Franklin’s 8 tackles, and 2.5 TFL with a QB hurry. Goodman and White had 7 each. Giles with 6 including the 1 sack. The front line featured a 5-man front with Franklin, White, Boyd, Giles, and Hank Gennicks won the battle in the trenches holding the vaunted NK rushing attack to 1.14 per carry, and the defense kept the Warriors at bay on the scoreboard as well as 0 for 9 on 3rd downs. Linton has a 20 to 3 first down margin, and themselves were 4-8 on 3rd down, 2-3 on 4th. Linton had 7 TFL totaling 34 yards, and kept the game mostly on the NK side of the field as the Warriors ran only 12 plays in Miner territory. 10 of those came in the 4th quarter, with the deepest penetration being the Miner 36 on that late run by Saucerman. If there was a negative for Linton it might be in the penalty area as Linton had 9 calls for 81 yards.
Linton takes with high powered balance offense to Roy Williams for Senior Night this Friday. Linton, with 293.6 per game on the ground and 137.9 in the air (431.5/game) will be hard to contain for the 1-6 Thunderbirds of Eastern Greene. Once more praised deserved to the Miner Trench Dawgs of Nathan Watson, Wrigley Franklin, Hank Gennicks, Aiden Giles and Jake Breedlove as the Miners increased their rushing totals to 2,055 yards and an outstanding 32 rush TDs. They have protected Hunter Gennicks, as he has been sacked just 4 times, with only 17 hurries. Linton has had 54 QB Hurries on the year with 12 sacks. Linton continues to fare well in the red zone 25 of 29 despite losing a fumble at the 2 against the Warriors.
Eastern Greene is once more coached by Travis Wray, who was an assistant under Joey Paridaen 2014-2017 and then named Head Coach in 2018 winning 6 and losing 4. EG has lost their last 3; 61-7 to unbeaten 4A Owen Valley, 41-6 to 3-4 2A Clarksville and 48-14 to 5-2 2A Paoli. Their lone win was a 56-30 offensive slugfest over 1-6 2A Mitchell in week 4. They opened with losses to Springs Valley, North Knox and North Daviess. The Thunderbirds added football to their school in 2003, and have faced the Miners every year, with Linton holding a 21-1 dominance. That 1 loss cane in 2017 as EG rolled unbeaten 14-0 to the 1A state final before losing to Pioneer 42-14. The year prior saw EG’s first sectional title with a 10-3 team who lost to Linton 56-7 in the Regional, as Linton won state over Pioneer. Wray replaced Roy Bruce who had gone 3-27 in three years since replacing Wray in 2019. EG is led by the rushing of junior James Lewis IV with 750 yards on 101 carries. Junior Evan Ferkingstad adds 230 yards. Jonas Hawk, another junior, is at QB and has thrown for 314 yards 26-49 with 2 TDs. This is a junior heavy squad with 3 sophomores on the starting O line and just 1 senior. Defensively they have 3 seniors and led by Evan Rogers 63 stops from Safety. Ferkingstad has 51 from ILB, with 35 from Lane Stephens, and 27 from DT Bryce Teague. Reilly Arwine-Vires, one of the few seniors, has 8 TFL of his 11 total plus 3 sacks.
It will be the last regular season game for this current group of seniors who have been a part of a 17-1 2-year run, as well an 8-4 sophomore campaign that reached the sectional championship. For Hunter Gennicks, Hunter Johns, Logan Webb, Bradyn Cox, Jaylen Dierdorf, Jordan Cullom, Nathan Frady, Wrigley Franklin, Aiden Giles, & Nathan Watson it’s a chance to walk down the tunnel formed by your teammates with you parents and loved ones. Believe me, it’s something you don’t forget. I can still see my Dad smacking my helmet like he was back in high school when we all piled up pre game. The Miners are certainly heavy favorites, and it’s likely to be a matter of how many points Linton puts up, but I expect the Thunderbirds to come out fighting under Coach Wray. Lewis has great speed and broke a long run against Linton last year. As fans, we need to continue the physical support as we’ve seen all season. It’s a chance to really show appreciation for not just the football players, but the cheerleaders, band members, managers, Tennis and Cross Country…. My apologies if that doesn’t cover everyone.
As always. WQTY will have the call with myself and Kevin Rader on 93.3 Sunrise FM… as well as wqtyradio.com. I am away that the WQTY audio stream disappeared. But you can go to network1sports.com as well. Live Stats, Info, History as it happens. I could never go to a game without a radio and ear plug!