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By LARRY GOFFINET
LINTON—Last year Perry Central traveled to Linton-Stockton for a first-round Class A football sectional game with the Miners, who were undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the state.
The picture has changed little this year. Perry Central will play the Miners, who are 10-0 and ranked No. 2 in the state, in a second-round game Friday at 7 p.m. And again the game is at Linton, the eighth consecutive time these two have met in the sectional that the game was there (they played at Perry Central only once, back in 1997).
Last year Linton beat the Commodores 48-7. Perry Central Coach Greg Gibson is obviously hoping for a different result this year but admitted “it’s going to be a challenge.”
The Miners return most of their skill people from last year.
Austin Karazsia, a 6-foot-7, 205-pound senior, is a third-year starter at quarterback. He has completed 168 of 237 passes (70.9 percent) for 2,308 yards and 31 touchdowns.
He operates in a spread offense, using a shotgun formation 95 percent of the time, and will usually have three wide receivers on one side or two on each side, said Gibson.
He throws to four receivers so regularly that Gibson could not say which is his favorite. “That’s what makes them really tough.”
The four have between 201 and 339 yards receiving, with Dane Rupska leading the team with the latter figure.
“Overall they’ll be the quickest team we’ve faced,” said Gibson. “All their receivers can run and they have great hands.”
Koye Kaiser, a 5-9, 175-pound senior running back, is another key returnee for the Miners.
Though they pass 70 percent of the time, they also “use the pass to set up the run,” said Gibson. Thus Kaiser has rushed for 1,049 yards “and he doesn’t carry it very much (an average of 12.4 times per game),” noted Gibson.
The Miners graduated three starters on the offensive line last spring and are not quite as big as they were last year. “Looking at tape, I’d say we’re pretty close,” said Gibson.
Another factor giving Gibson hope is “our defensive backfield has a year of experience.” Last year most of them were first-year starters as they got burned for four touchdown passes by the Miners.
The Miners play a 4-4 defense, though “they’ll walk up the outside backers at times to make it look like a 5-3,” said Gibson.
“They have a really tough defensive end (6-foot, 215-pound senior Ethan Lannan)--they do a good job containing,” said Gibson. And Rupska “is a pretty good linebacker,” said Gibson.
The Miners average 54.6 points per game while giving up only 6.0 per game. Their closest game was a 35-12 win over North Daviess.