Linton heads to Putnam County for the first time since the infamous 14-6 Semi-State loss to the Eagles in 1985 that lives on in the memory of Miner Fans. Last year was the renewal of a series that originally started in 1974 through 1977, where Linton won 3 of those 4. With the Semi state loss, and last year’s Miner 48-12 win, Linton leads the series 4-2.
Under Chuck Sorrell the Eagles are 7-1 with last week’s 49-20 win over 5-3 2A ranked Heritage Christian the quality win South Putnam needed on their resume. Their lone loss is to unbeaten 4A Owen Valley, but they put up 34 points in the loss (57-34) to the #6/#7 Patriots. They have wins over 4-4 Greencastle (35-14), 3-5 North Putnam (52-20) and 3-5 West Vigo (40-8). Sorrell came to South Putnam in 2019 taking over for Nathan Aker. He was 5-6 that first year, but they rolled through 2020 unbeaten and won their sectional with a 43-40 shootout over Parke Heritage. Covenant Christian (who would win the state crown) knocked SP out with a 48-7 loss in Regional. 2021 saw the Eagles losing to Parke Heritage in sectional, but having a solid 8-3 campaign losing only to Owen Valley and Linton in regular season. Sorrel is 32-11 at South Putnam in this his 4th season after a 4-26 mark in prior 3 years at South Vermillion.
South Putnam has a rich football tradition, and the addition of the Eagles on Linton’s schedule brings an immediate improvement in competition. South Putnam reached the state title game under Mark Wildman in 2002 losing 17-14 in heartbreak style to Southwood. They have had stellar seasons in 2001 (10-4) 2002 (12-3) 2011 (10-3) and 2013 (11-2). In last year’s meeting at The Roy, Linton jumped out to a 28-0 first-half lead starting with two Hunter Gennicks TD run, one of which was 88 yards.
The Eagles almost answered the first Miner score with their own 13 play drive that ate up 6 ½ minutes only to be stopped on 4th and goal from the 1. They hurt themselves with back to back series’ where they lost fumbles in their own territory as well. Gennicks ran for 165 yards, threw for 99 as the Miners racked up 438 of offense. Gabe Eslinger had 88 rushing yards as well. The Eagles were led by Jr QB Jeremiah Hibbeln who threw 11 of 23 for 105, and rushed for 55 yards. SP was held of just 173 total offense in the 48-12 Miner win.
South Putnam as been a scoring machine scoring 51.9 ppg, with a high of 75 against winless Brown County. They average 413.9 offense per game, with 268.3 on the ground and 112.1 in the air. They run a spread attack with a single back, and some times up to 5 receivers side to side, yet still run 66% of the time. It’s a new QB in 2022 with sophomore #9 Wyatt Mullen as the helm as a sophomore answering the bell with 1,164 yards passing on 80 0f 118 attempts. He’s thrown 15 TDs and 5 picks. That passing attack has several outlets, but certain to grab attention are junior #14 Drew Hill and soph #3 Wyatt Switzer. Each has 22 catches, with Switzer 3 score and 373 yards, Hill with 4 scores and 297 yards. Peyton Crickmore (#28) had 7 for 67 and Kaden Childress (327) 8-103-1. 6’2 215 Soph Zach Dorsett gets in the mix with 5 for 120, 3 of those TDs. Dorsett has the build of a TE but is also spread out in slots as a size advantage.
That pass game isn’t the only thing the Miner defense must worry about. Senior Luke Switzer (#23 5’10 185) has racked up 1,013 yards, with 16 TDs and a 9.29 per carry average. Crickmore, another senior at 5;6 155) usually comes in motion to get a hand off or pitch adds 484 with a score but also a 10+ carry average. The QB Mullin adds 296 with 8 TDs. Up front the Eagles start an almost completely new unit other than Tackle Brock Heavin (Sr #75 6’2 225). 2 sophomores and a freshman join another senior Ethan Harcout (#56, 5;8 225). The Sophs are center Gus Monday (#66 6’0 218) and tackles Parker Harris (#59 6’0 210) with Freshman Preston Pelrey (#54 6’0 245) at Guard. This unit has led the way for 2,146 rush yards and 31 rush TDs.
The Defense has a definite leader in #11 Jr ILB Aiden Beadles with an amazing stat of 145 tackles, 85 of those solo, with 15 TFL. He is joined by Dorsett who has 29 stops. The outside backers are #40 Kolby Harcourt who is second in tackles with 61, and #2 Caden Witt, who had 48. At the Nose is Sr Kaleb Owens #43 at 6;2 225 with Ethan Harcourt and #50 Kye Glasson (jr 6’ 225) at ends. Glasson had 46 tackles and 12.5 TFL. The D backfield all return from 2021 with L.Switzer and Crickmore at corners, #1 Fisher Jones (sr 5;9 155) and $6 Caden Switzer (jr 6;2 175) at safeties. Caden has 41 tackles. SP has 5 interceptions, led by 3 from Jones and #4 Braden Staley.
Linton comes in 8-0 under Coach Brian Oliver who is 100-21 taking over for Steve Weber in 2013. Under Oliver Linton won the State 1A title in 2016, after a runner up year in 2015. The Miners had won a regional in his 1st year and a sectional in 2014. Since the move to 2A Linton has been unable to get past the sectional level despite a 9-2 2019, 8-4 2020 and 10-1 2021 success.
The Miners are led by captain Hunter Gennicks who has 987 rush yards with 16 TDs, an 11.6 p/c average. He has five 100+ yard rushing games with a high of 184 against Boonville. No question his yardage numbers, like others, would be much higher were Linton not involved in blow outs with running clocks. He also has 1,078 passing yards and 14 TDs on 77 of 132 passing and 1 interception. Hunter Johns at Running Back adds 579 yards on just 68 carries with 11 scores, wingbacks Braden Walters I31-196-3) and Jesse Voigtschild (38-311-5) round out the backfield. The offensive line has led Linton to rush for 2,418 yards, 302.5 per game with 39 TDs. Hank Gennicks (so 6’2 250), Wrigley Franklin (Sr 6;3 225) Nathan Watson (Sr 6’o 255), Aiden Giles (Sr 6’3 200) and Jacob Breedlove (Jr 6’7 300). The Passing game has been an effective tool multiple options that include Logan Webb (Se 6’4 205) 18 catches for 195 and 2 scores, Walters 21-382-5, Freshman Paul Oliver (6’3 205) 17-282-5, Voigtschilds 7-122 and Johns 4-44).
Linton’s Defense is led by another freshman Russell Goodman (#6, 6’2 180) at ILB with 56 stops and 6 TFL. Christian Shonk (J r 5;10 180) and Bradyn Cox (Sr 5;10 185) both see action at ILB. Oliver and Franklin are at OLB with Franklin 2nd in tackles with 55, and 11 sacks. Oliver has 12 TFL and 4 sacks. Between those two, the opposing QB has been under pressure 25 times. Up front the Miners rotate Hank Gennicks, Ashton White (54 stops 5.5 TFL 1.1 Sacks) Aiden Giles and Ty Boyd. The Linton DBs will be tested with the Eagle passing attack. Safeties Walters, Hunter Gennicks (48 tackles 3 picks) along with Corners Johns and Voigtschild.
Both teams will be gearing towards the 1st round of sectionals as SP has the tough task of facing #1 Lutheran, and Linton will tangle with 6-2 South Vermillion. Certainly this will be a good barometer of where each team is heading into the post season. For the Miners, a spread type offense has led to breakdowns defensively and big plays earlier in the year. Changes were made mid-season and this will be the first time seeing how things have improved. The Miners are still ranked at the top of the 2A polls, while the Eagles are #6/#7 in 1A Polls. It has the makings of a great game to watch and/or listen to. Where? Well our broadcast with myself and Kevin Rader will be on the airwaves at 93.3 FM, as well as online stream at www.wqtyradio.com and network1sports.com