Sep. 23—The high school football parallels between Tyler Meurer and Hunter Gennicks aren't exact, Linton coach Brian Oliver pointed out this week.
Meurer was more of a breakaway threat when he ran the ball, Oliver noted, while Gennicks is more of a power runner (Gennicks agrees, but says he can put a move on a defender if running over said defender appears to be a bad idea). Gennicks might be the better passer of the two quarterbacks. Both were/are also safeties on defensive — very physical safeties.
But there are some similarities.
"They're both game-changers," Oliver said. "Dual-threat quarterbacks . . . both safeties."
The similarity most important to Miner fans at this point, of course, would be how the two careers end. Meurer finished his wearing a gold medal around his neck on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium six years ago, and the 2022 Miners are currently ranked No. 1 in Class 2A for the first time ever. ("The No. 1 team [isn't determined] until the day after Thanksgiving," Oliver says).
Hunter Gennicks was a sixth-grader when the Miners became Class A champions in 2016. "They had a really good team," he recalled this week. "Chemistry, brotherhood . . . they worked harder than anybody I've ever seen."
He's seen a lot of Linton teams, it should be noted, and he's heard about a lot more. His grandfather, Mark Gennicks, is Linton's long-time defensive coordinator and his father, Jake Gennicks, has been the offensive coordinator for quite a while. (The two generations don't fight over his services, Hunter said with a smile, although he was a starting safety before taking over at quarterback early in his sophomore season.)
This year's Miners, their quarterback says, have a chance.
"We're big and athletic," Gennicks said. "We're pretty dangerous offensively, with a lot of weapons."
Defense was a concern in the Miner camp this week after last Friday's 50-40 win at Boonville, but as Linton readies itself for a trip to Elnora and its annual lovefest with North Daviess on Saturday, Gennicks predicts "we'll be [where we need to be defensively] before you know it. We have a good brotherhood going."
Gennicks knows what his job is in keeping the Miner season on track.
"I feel like I fit in as a leader," he said this week. "We got down 12 against Boonville with 50 seconds left in the [first] half, but we got it done [a touchdown before intermission that helped swing momentum Linton's way]."
"He's definitely a leader," his coach agreed. "He's a two-year captain, he helps coach up the younger kids, he leads by example. He's No. 2 in his class [academically] and he can rally the other kids around him."
A new sectional assignment this season means the Miners will have a different postseason path. Evansville Mater Dei, the Miners' sectional nemesis the past four seasons, won't be in their way this year until perhaps the semistate, although winning the sectional might mean having to beat traditional rival Sullivan a second time.
"I'm always excited about change," Oliver said. "Teams like Cascade, South Vermillion and Southmont [undefeated under coach Desson Hannum, the former Dugger Bulldog] are ones we haven't seen in awhile. But there are a lot of things we have to correct; 2A is pretty stacked in the south."
"I'd like to finish an undefeated season [which Meurer and the 2016 Miners did]," Gennicks said. "We've got the potential to make a deep playoff run.
"We have to stay hungry, focus every week," he continued, "but if we fix some little things on defense, we'll be all right."