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Monday, May 25, 2015

What to make of 2012 Miner season?

Posted Monday, November 19, 2012, at 4:07 PM

In this age of what I will call "sports talk radio on steroids," every game, every decision, every week has to analyzed, scrutinized, dissected and discussed until nauseous.

If the 2012 Linton-Stockton football team was on the national stage, the question, probably unfair, that TV and radio would ask would be this, "Was the Miners season a success or a failure?

The reason they would ask the question is because when a team sets the bar so high and has championship aspirations but falls short of their goals, for whatever reason, it is just natural to focus on the most recent outcome.

We get caught up in the, "What Have You Done for me Lately Syndrome." In this case, it would be easy to forget the undefeated regular season, conference championship and school record-tying 13 wins for the second straight season and focus on another heartbreaking semistate loss at home for Linton-Stockton.

The 17-14 setback in overtime to Indianapolis Scecina Friday night at Roy Williams Field was the seventh loss in as many tries on this level, leaving the Miners one step away from playing on the ultimate stage for Indiana high school football teams.

Although the Miners have lost in overtime in the semistate in the past, also at Roy Williams Field, where they are 0-5, this one probably seems as painful as a million paper cuts.

On fourth-and-goal from the Scecina 1 with the visiting Crusaders leading 17-14 as a result of Luke Frain's short field goal to end their first possession of OT, the Miners decided to go for the win.

Instead of a opting for a potential game-tying field goal (from about 18 yards, two short of an extra point) from the Miners all-time leading kicker Dyllanne Deischer, Linton-Stockton went all in.

Zane Hayden disappeared somewhere between the Miner front wall and the Scecina defense. In the seconds before a ruling was made on whether Hayden and the ball had crossed the goal line, every fan in Miner Nation could already envision their boys in Red and Blue playing in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this weekend for a Class A state championship.

After further review (Miner faithful only wished their was instant replay), Hayden was ruled down and the Dream Season, for lack of a better term, turned into a nightmare.

While the Scecina players and fans went crazy, the home team and their fans watched in stunned silence and disbelief, if not outrage.

To be honest, the view of the goal line from the sidelines on any Friday night on any dimly lit high school field in Indiana is fair at best. Most fields have few lights near the end zones.

I asked several colleagues whether they thought Hayden had scored, and none of them could give me a definitive answer. I certainly couldn't tell as well.

I was talking with a member of Miner Nation shortly there after and he told me his view.

Hayden appeared to not get good traction and did not get his feet completely under himself after taking the hand off from Austin Karazsia and his knee touched down before he crossed the goal line. Senior middle linebacker James Hadley was credited with the game-saving tackle.

I watched former Miner player Darren Clayton, who keeps offensive stats for his alma mater, walk toward the middle of the field as if he was approaching a automobile accident and hoping for a different outcome. He was slowly making his way to the radio booth to report his stats and give his account of another heartbreaker, but it was more like a very slow funeral march.

I thought back to our brief conversation we had early in the game about that semistate loss in overtime to Indianapolis Ritter on a blocked extra point eight years ago.

He basically said one minute you are excited because you are thinking you are at least going to a second overtime and the next minute the season is over and you feel like you have been punched in the stomach and all you are left with is a sickening feeling.

In retrospect, I am not sure what to make of the game.

When teams play primarily a spread offense out of the shotgun, usually they don't take many snaps from under center. Because of this, sometimes they struggle in short yardage situations in the red zone, like the Colts used to do when Peyton Manning was running the show in Indy. How many times did L-S have Koye Kaiser at quarterback in these situations in the regular season against far inferior defenses.

The Miners did score one of their touchdowns from the Scecina 1 at the end of the half when Karazsia raced up under center and took a quick snap, surprising the Crusaders and scoring a TD to tie the game at 7-all at intermission.

Because of this, a friend of mine said he thought the Miners were right in going for the win.

Going for the tie would not have been a 100 percent safe bet. Deischer is a heck of a high school kicker on extra points and short field goals, but the snap and hold would have to be perfect as well as the blocking and the kick.

If the Miners would have lost on a missed field goal, coach Steve Weber would have been criticized for not going for it. You can't win in a situation like that.

How cursed are the Miners in semistates when you consider Scecina fumbled five times and recovered them all? Even on David Tarver's 75-yard touchdown tying run, he fumbled the ball and it perfectly bounced back to him as he never broke stride in front of the excited Crusader fan base.

Other than a couple of plays, the Miner defense was brilliant. They kept the Crusaders from scoring twice in the fourth quarter when Karazsia threw an interception and Abe Neff fumbled, both turnovers coming in Linton-Stockton territory.

The Miners seemed to take different strategies at times early on punting from inside the Scecina 35-yard line in the first quarter while going for it in overtime. Although Linton-Stockton had more first downs and yards, they seemed to play very conservatively against Scecina.

But that might have been because the Crusaders defense was by far the best the Miners had faced through what had a been a cake walk on the way to the school's 10th sectional and seventh regional championships. Their offense definitely never found a comfort zone, which is what you would expect at this level of competition.

Even though the Miners have a ton of talent returning and they will still be very successful, everybody figured this would be the year for a chance at a state title.

The most questionable position will be quarterback, no matter if Beau Eaton, Grant Stamm or somebody else takes snaps at QB. Nobody will have hardly any varsity experience and how could any reasonable person think whoever would be able step in and fill the shoes left by Karazsia, an All-State caliber player, who led the Miners to back-to-back regional titles.

I am sure there is not a player on the team that wouldn't trade all 13 wins, No. 1 or No. 2 ranking (depending on the poll), a Southwest Seven Conference title and an undefeated regular season for a chance to play reigning state champions Lafayette Central Catholic in the Class A state championship game Friday afternoon.

But back to my original question. I guess you could say 2012 was more like success and heartache instead of failure.

But in the end, the numbers 40-0, 58-26, 61-6, 40-0, 63-6. 35-12, 64-0, 71-0, 68-0, 46-0, 45-7, 48-6 and 28-0 (the Miner winning game scores) provide little relief when compared to 14-17.

B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at hargisbj@gmail.com.

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B.J. Hargis
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