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Miners looking toward the futurePosted Monday, November 16, 2009, at 7:41 PM
Although the sting of Linton-Stockton's 21-7 loss to Fountain Central in the Class A Regional championship game probably still resonates with Miner football players, coaches and fans, it took Linton-Stockton coach Steve Weber just minutes to turn his attention to next season.
I have had the pleasure of watching the Miners compete in the post season for years, and Weber's final message to his teams always is the same -- get in the weight room.
As much or more so than any other prep sport, football is a game of strength and size, especially at the line of scrimmage.
Even a laymen like myself could tell that the Mustangs had control of the line of scrimmage and therefore control of the game. Fountain Central, undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the final Class A poll, proved to be no fluke (their strength of schedule actually was slightly weaker than Linton-Stockton) as they advanced to the semistate.
They had allowed opponents just over eight points per game and they did even better than that Friday night.
They kept the Miner offense, who had averaged over 50 points per game during their five-game winning streak, out of the end zone. Other than a timely 85-yard kickoff return by the Kent Helton late in the second quarter, Linton-Stockton could not score from scrimmage, even though having favorable field position after intermission.
The Miners, who scored just four touchdowns in their four losses this season, had numerous opportunities to make it a game in the second half but timely mistakes and big plays on defense by the Mustangs brought the Linton-Stockton season to an end at 9-4.
Weber's message to his troops was one of pride, mixed with a little disappointment.
The Miners will lose 10 seniors to graduation, including Stefan Sparks and Evan Magni, who in my humble opinion were the heart and soul of this team that rebounded to win its third consecutive sectional after losing the Southwest Seven Conference for the first time. There were many key performers in the second-half turnaround, including senior Kaleb Bridges.
Linton-Stockton avenged conference losses to North Knox and North Daviess as part of their run to the school's eighth sectional championship in football.
Although Weber and his staff said good-bye to those three seniors and classmates Joshua Ivey, Ethan Ray, Benn Sparks, Kyle Smith, Seth Russell, Seth Lockhart and Patrick Collisson, everyone believes the future will be bright for the Miners. They have 14 freshmen, 11 sophomores and 11 juniors that gives Miner Nation the hope of great things to come.
"It all starts next week in the weight room" said Weber. "If you don't believe how important it is, just ask the seniors.
"We have had a lot of success here in recent years. That has made us complacent and not work as hard as we need to in the off season in order to be able win games like this. You guys returning have to get in the weight room and do the work. It doesn't start next month or next year, it starts now. It is up to you guys."
Weber had just a few more words of encouragement for the returning players.
I know we are going to be wearing a ring, Weber said referencing winning a state championship.
As Miner assistant coach Joe Lorig told me last week, talent will only take you so far. "Look a guy like Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts quarterback)," said Lorig. "He has worlds of talent, but nobody works and prepares any harder than he does.
"He makes the most out of every ounce of talent he has."
Hopefully the Miners of the future will too.
Only time will tell.
B.J. Hargis is sports editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext 12 or at email@example.com.
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