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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014

A glance back at 2010 football season, sectional title game

Posted Monday, November 8, 2010, at 10:52 PM

Colts fans could easily be compared to Linton-Stockton football fans. They both have been spoiled by success.

Indianapolis has put up seven consecutive 12-plus win seasons, a winning percentage of over .750 during that time. That also includes a Super Bowl championship and two appearances in the epic contest.

But it is always what have you done for me lately.

The Miners have won 102 of 129 games during the Steve Weber coaching era. That equates to a .791 winning percentage, the 16th best in the state over the past 11 seasons.

Perry Central, who has a 114-23 record and .832 win percentage, is the only Class A team ranked higher (seventh) during that period.

I know that Miner Nation has to be a big disappointed after achieving a rare trifecta -- no undefeated regular season, no conference championship and no sectional title.

But the Miners completed something even more rare -- winning three consecutive sectionals (2007, 2008 and 2009). That is pretty special considering Linton-Stockton has won just eight since its first playoff appearance some 28 years ago.

The Miner faithful probably don't realize that Perry Central (2005, 2006 and 2010) and Linton-Stockton each have three sectional titles over the past six seasons.

The Miners stopped a possible Perry Central three-peat in 2007 and the Commodores ended Linton-Stockton's three-peat less than 96 hours ago.

Although Caleb Stuppy, Ty Scott, Reid Firestone, Nick Angell, AJ Sperling, Brock Moore, Anthony Morin, Brandon Swihart, Alex Seat and Patrick Ellis will be lost to graduation, the Miners do have 36 players eligible to return, including leading rusher Kent Helton and quarterback Austin Karazsia.

"You guys really fought. You played a heck of a game," Weber told his team after a 28-17 loss to Perry Central Nov. 5 at Roy Williams Field in the Class A Sectional 40 title game. "I am proud of the way you guys came along.

"A lot kids wished they had the won-loss record you guys have."

The nine wins this year, against three losses, matches the nine wins that Sullivan has during the past three seasons combined.

After an improbable fumble at the 1-yard line kept North Daviess from winning the sectional in 2008 and after the Miners avenged two of their regular-season losses to capture the sectional last year, maybe the Miner Magic Wishing Well went dry. Or just maybe the Miners got beat by a better football team last Friday.

What are the odds of watching your team play for a sectional championship four years in a row,? let alone all four being at home and winning three.

"I think that coach Weber does a tremendous job with his program," said Perry Central coach Mike Spencer, who has won six sectionals during 11 seasons at PC compared to four in 11 seasons for Weber. "I told him that after the game.

"Watching his young men on tape, I think he did a tremendous job with this group. I have a great deal of respect for him. We compete hard against each other."

Perry Central and Linton-Stockton have now met eight times in the sectional with the Commodores owning a 5-3 advantage.

"I kid our players about this all the time. I tell them the IHSAA has a ping pong ball up there that no matter how the draw comes out it says, 'Perry Central at Linton,'" said Spencer. "If that gets drawn out every year, they kind of put it in. I kid them about it.

It's really ironic that's we've never played Linton at Perry Central. It has been a while since we got one."

In a classic match-up of Perry's running game against the Miner aerial assault, it was the Perry Central passing game that made key plays while the Miner running game was limited to a season-low output.

On the opening series on a second-and-eight from the Perry Central 46, quarterback Dee Jay Shaw found Lucas Bryant behind the Miner defense for a 54-yard TD pass to put the Commodores ahead to stay before the game was three minutes old. Shaw only threw five times, completing three, for 91 yards and the one score.

Conversely, the Miner running game produced 49 yards on 12 attempts.

"We needed that," said Spencer. " We figured they would have to do something to stop the run game. And we wanted to see what it was. So we had a couple of different things in the passing game, depending on what adjustments we saw. We made the decision that we were going to go for that one. We thought we could get it.

"The blocking was where it should have been. The quarterback did what he should have done and the receiver did what he should have done. It was just picture perfect. That's all say you can about that one. That really did put us in a good spot."

After Karazsia, who finished the season with 159 completions in 271 attempts for 2,220 yards, all Miner season records, hit Scott on a 2-yard touchdown completion, Linton-Stockton trailed 14-10 with seven minutes and 41 seconds to play in the first half.

The Commodores came up with a key pass completion to begin a key scoring drive deep in their own territory. Shaw connected with Bryant on a 25-yard pass from the 14.

Sixteen plays later, 15 runs, Mikey Wilkerson scored from the 4 for a 21-10 cushion at intermission.

Wilkerson finished with between 211 and 249 yards, depending on which sports writer you asked. I had him with 54 carries for 249 and a 1-yard TD run that capped a 60-yard scoring drive that consumed five seconds short of six minutes. They had the ball for over 35 of 48 minutes, keeping the Miner big-play attack on the bench.

Though the 5-10, 190 Wilkerson did not appear overly big or quick, tight ends Cody Atkins (240 pounds) and Joey Peter (205) and linemen Travis James (245), Spencer Wright (200), Brian James (180), Greg Coultas (180) and Brad Barnes (210) continually won the battle in the trenches with the Miners.

"That's the thing that has really been an asset for us. As the year has gone on, we have gotten better at getting off the ball, getting into the block and getting Mikey a place to go," said Spencer.

"He's a good running back. But you saw at the end, if guys get to you, you can't run. You can see what happens when linemen give you a chance to get to the second and third level, you see how good he is. We got him the chance. If you are going to tackle him, you are not going to tackle him easy. If you don't wrap him up, you are not going to stop him."

It seemed like Wilkerson broke numerous tackles or often made something out of nothing.

"Early in the season, I took a game tape and just wanted to see how many yards he got after contact," said Spencer. "And he got almost 50 percent of his yards after contact. If you don't get a shoulder pad on him, you are not going to take him down.

"He works hard. He has a great work ethic. This whole group has been that way."

Looking from the outside in, this might not have appeared to one of the better Perry Central teams. They lost three of four before righting the ship and will take an eight-game winning streak into the regional championship game this weekend against Fountain Central.

"We are not as big as we have been at times. Maybe not even as quick as we have been at times," said Spencer. "But I will tell what we have, we have a bunch of kids that practice their hearts out.

"They have learned that Monday through Thursday is when you build champions, not just on Friday night. They have worked their tails off."

As he does at the end of almost every year, Weber talked to his players about their need to get stronger in the off season, especially after losing the running game battle 268-49 yards unofficially.

With Perry Central loading up the box and almost forcing Linton-Stockton to pass on almost every down, the Miners did throw for almost 200 yards.

Unlike the 35-14 Miner victory over PC in the title game in 2007, where a fumble to start the game turned the tide toward the home team, Perry Central did not have any turnovers while the Miners committed four, including a fumble.

"Until we decide to get in the weight room, this is the way a lot of our seasons are going to end," he said. "We have to get 100 percent committed to getting in the weight room now."

B.J. Hargis is the sports editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (800) 947-4487, ext 12 or at hargisbj@gmail.com.


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