The Indianapolis Scecina Crusaders bring their high-powered ground game to Roy Williams Field for Friday night's IHSAA South Semistate title game.
It's a rematch of last year's semistate that went the way of the Crusaders 17-0 at the University of Indianapolis.
"But this time we have the semistate at home and that's big for our guys and for the community."
The winner will be cast into the brightest spotlight the day after Thanksgiving when they meet the winner of the North Semistate Championship between Lafayette Central Catholic (12-1) and Sheridan (9-4).
But let's not put the cart ahead of the horse, or in this case ahead of the horses that make up both teams.
While both squads were in the same position last year, this time around the home field advantage belongs to the Miners -- something Weber hopes will work in his team's favor.
"It'll make a lot of difference to them I'm sure they're going to have some nerves and I would hope they have some nerves coming into this game," Weber said of his team when asked about the effect of being at home.
"Being in the familiar confines of Linton, they know all the nooks and crannies and I think the crowd's going to be huge.
"We played them on turf last time, so let's see what we can do when we play them on grass."
While the calendar may have changed for both teams, the scheme and the personnel are about the same.
"I would assume (they're doing) much the same (things as last year)," Weber said. "Why change something that's not broken? But we'll see."
The Crusaders are again led by coach Ott Hurrle, who is 140-107 in 21 seasons at Scecina.
They are scoring just over 33 points per game while allowing just under 17. They posted their only shutout of the season last week, defeating 12-0 North Vermillion 27-0 in the regional championship game. The Falcons had scored 48 or more eight different times.
"Our two middle linebackers, Connor Tooley (who had 10 tackles against North Vermillion) and Jimmy Hadley, are the heart and soul of our defense," said Hurrle. "They have played well for us and will have to do so again Friday night.
"Christian Johnson, Dylan Richardson and Dustin Embry are some of our defensive linemen. We have to be able to plug up the middle, but also get some pressure on their quarterback."
The Miner offense, which hasn't scored less than four touchdowns in any game (28-0 win over West Washington last week in the regional title game), comes in averaging over 51 points per game, No. 3 in the state and No. 1 in Class A.
"Linton is an incredible football team," Hurrle said from his football office Sunday night. "That's why I spent all day Sunday trying to figure out a way to slow them down."
Pulling the trigger is quarterback Austin Karazsia.
The lanky, gunslinger has completed 233 of 325 passes for 3,199 yards and 41 TDs.
The person who said "a man can't stock two shelves" obviously never saw the Karazsia-led Miner air attack.
There are six different receivers with double-digit catches. Two are over 50 catches while two more are over 30.
Leading the way is Grant Stamm who has caught 62 for 1,045 yards and 13 TDs. But Stamm played limited snaps in the sectional final two weeks ago against North Daviess and in the regional title game last week against West Washington. His status is unknown.
Not to be outdone is Cole Bradbury with 51 catches for 667 yards and nine touchdowns.
The dropoff after Bradbury is minimal.
Koye Kaiser, who leads the team in rushing with 1,414 yards, has hauled in 31 passes for 320 yards and four TDs while Dane Rupska (30 catches for 430 yards and 6 TDs), Zane Hayden (26 for 400 yards and 5 scores) and Beau Eaton (19 receptions for 185 and a pair of touchdowns) round out the double figure pass catchers.
"Obviously the Karazsia kid is one of the best quarterbacks in the state," said Hurrle. "They have a lot of great receivers, who are quick and have made big plays all season.
"But this year, Linton is running the ball even more. The Kaiser kid is very fast and a tough runner. Their linemen block so well. I don't think they have a weaknesses at all."
Kaiser has been a nightmare for opposing defenses. Aside from chewing up the yards for big numbers, he's also known for his breakaway speed which produces yards -- and points -- in big chunks.
The senior speedster has racked up 19 touchdowns for a team-leading combined total of 23 trips to paydirt.
But he's also not alone in threatening defenses, he's got plenty of help to make defensive coordinators buy out the antacid stock at their local pharmacy.
Zane Hayden has rushed for 404 yards on 58 carries while scoring 11 TDs, Austin Hale has ran the ball 45 times for 341 yards and five scores.
While all of those numbers would make most opposing coaches balk, when you take the Miner defense into account -- a defense that Weber believes is the linchpin of his team -- things get even more scary on the other side of the field.
The Miners are yielding just 4.85 points per game on average. The varsity defense has not allowed a touchdown since Sept. 21.
"I have watched tape solid for the last two days," said Hurrle. "They are really good on defense, as opponents have scored less than a touchdown per game.
"They are so solid everywhere you look, on both sides of the ball. We have got our hands full."
Speaking of having their hands full, Linton-Stockton doesn't exactly face empty shelves when it comes to the Scecina offense.
The Crusaders return their starting backfield from a year ago. David Tarver, who had 20 carries for 124 yards and one TD against the Miners a year ago, again is leading the Crusader ground game.
He had 154 yards on 15 rushes and one score in the regional title game.
Thomas Allgood, who added 112 yards on the ground as a result of 15 carries in the semistate title game in Indy last year, also had a touchdown against NV, as did Curtis Henley and quarterback Robert Rennick.
Rennick also had a touchdown last year against the Miners. The Crusaders won Class 2A state championships in 1990 and 1991.
"We are still a team that still runs first," said Hurrle, who's Crusaders passed for just 44 yards against the Miners while rushing for 253 last November. "Against a team as good as Linton, we have to be able to run the football.
"We are very similar to last year. But like everybody, we had some holes to fill and have had some injuries, which have slowed down our continuity."
Hurrle knows their offense can help their defense.
"If we can control the ball on offense, that will keep the ball away from their big-play offense," he said. "They are such a great team with a great quarterback that it scares me. It keeps me up nights. We have to keep the ball away from their offense or it could get ugly."
Scecina trails Linton in virtually every statistical category exception one -- strength of schedule.
The Crusaders' are second among the four teams remaining in Class A (156th overall) while the Miners strength of schedule is fourth (287th). Scecina's three losses have come against teams with a combined 29-7 mark, including a 36-18 setback at the hands of unbeaten Class 2A No. 1 Indianapolis Ritter and a 28-7 loss to Class 4A Roncalli.
"Our schedule helps in terms of playing against good skill kids and big linemen," said Hurrle. "But Linton has great skill kids and very good size linemen.
"It helps to have seen it in the regular season. The closest to Linton would be Ritter or Speedway, but we haven't faced an offense like this. I am not sure we have faced a better quarterback all season."
Kickoff for the game is set for 7:30 p.m. at Roy Williams Field.
Tickets are $8 each and no Miner Pride Passes can be accepted because this is an IHSAA event. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m.
There will be a community pep session for the Linton-Stockton Miner football team at 7:45 p.m. Thursday in the high school gymnasium.
The Miners will be hosting Indianapolis Scecina in the Southern Indiana Semistate championship game at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Everyone is invited.
The Indianapolis Colts 2012 Friday Night Football Tour will visit Linton-Stockton High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Class A Southern Semistate championship game will feature the host Linton-Stockton Miners and the Indianapolis Scecina Memorial Crusaders at Roy Williams Field.
The fifth playoff game of the tour will be at Linton Stockton High School.
Gates for the game will open at 5:30 p.m.
"The Friday Night Football Tour is a Colts initiative to show support for local football programs," said Pete Ward, Chief Operating Officer of the Indianapolis Colts. "The Colts are dedicated to supporting Indiana football programs at every level. Being a part of the local community and giving back to Indiana's loyal football fans is of great importance to the Indianapolis Colts organization."
The Tour will be open 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
It will feature the Colts traveling museum, Colts In Motion. Colts In Motion is a 42 foot trailer equipped with interactive videos, a chance to feel the field turf, and a behind the scenes look at the team. Other Friday Night Football Tour elements include Colts Cheerleader autographs, a Quarterback Challenge football toss, Colts giveaways, and a chance to register to win Colts tickets.
As a part of the 2012 Friday Night Football Tour, the Indianapolis Colts will make a $500 donation to both the home team's football and cheerleading programs on behalf of the Friday Night Football Tour sponsors.
The Friday Night Football Tour is presented by CollegeChoice 529 Savings Plan, Farmers Insurance Group, Herff Jones, Ivy Tech, and Prairie Farms.
Tickets for the Indianapolis Scecina at Linton-Stockton Class A Semistate championship football game, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Roy Williams Field, are on sale in the high school office.
Tickets cost $8 for all eight semistate football game.
Miner Pride Passes cannot be accepted for IHSAA Tournament events.
All games Friday except where noted
Merrillville (11-2) at Fort Wayne Snider (13-0)
Lawrence Central (13-0) at Center Grove (12-1)
Mishawaka (10-3) at Concord (11-2)
Indianapolis Cathedral (8-5) at Columbus East (13-0)
Mishawaka Marian (10-3) at Hamilton Heights (12-1)
Indianapolis Chatard (11-2) at Gibson Southern (11-2), 4:30 p.m. Saturday
Fort Wayne Luers (9-4) at Andrean (11-2)
Indianapolis Ritter (13-0) at Evansville Mater Dei (11-2)
Lafayette Central Catholic (12-1) at Sheridan (9-4)
Indianapolis Scecina (10-3) at Linton-Stockton (13-0), 7:30 p.m.
Dates: November 23-24, 2012.
Site: Lucas Oil Stadium, 500 S. Capitol Avenue, Indianapolis.
Tickets: $15 per day. All seats are general admission. Pre-school children admitted at no charge. Single day tickets may be purchased at participating schools the week of the state finals. Contact schools for ticket distribution hours. Tickets also will be available game day at the Lucas Oil Stadium Ticket Office located on the southeast side of the venue at street level nearest Capitol Avenue.
Gates Open: Lucas Oil Stadium will open its gates to fans beginning one hour prior to kickoff of the first game each day. On Friday, gates will open at 2:30 p.m. and on Saturday at 11 am ET.
Friday, November 23
Class A State Championship Game, 3:30 p.m.
Class 2A State Championship Game, 7 p.m.
Saturday, November 24
Class 3A State Championship Game, Noon.
Class 4A State Championship Game, 3:30 p.m.
Class 5A State Championship Game, 7:05 p.m.