It’s a transition year in 2013 for the proud Linton Miner football program.
The best quarterback in school history — Austin Karazsia, as well as a huge group of successful classmates — has graduated. And coach Steve Weber — 128-29 in the past 13 years at Linton — took the head coaching job at Bedford North Lawrence.
Linton will entrust the program to alumnus Brian Oliver, who has spent 15 years as an assistant coach with the program. He’ll hope to keep Linton, ranked No. 3 in the preseason coaches poll, among the state’s top Class A teams.
“It’s very exciting for me and my family to take over this program that I’ve been a part of for all these years,” Oliver said.
Oliver has two options at quarterback to replace Karazsia, senior Dane Rupska (6-2, 245) and senior Beau Eaton (6-1, 185).
While the strong-armed Karazsia allowed Linton to toss the ball around the field to the tune of 3,328 yards and 42 touchdowns last season, the Miners will “get back to our roots,” Oliver said.
“We’re making adjustments to abilities. We’re still going to be a spread,” Oliver said.
The two quarterbacks bring different abilities.
“Both bring different aspects. Dane’s a big boy, he can run, a tough runner. He’s got decent speed, a good arm. Beau can run as well, more composure in the pocket,” Oliver said.
The running backs will be fullback Austin Hale (5-9, 170), co-captain Zane Hayden (6-0, 175) and sophomore Mitch Eberhardt (6-1, 180).
“Mitch and Zane are two guys with really good speed,” Oliver said. “Austin Hale is a powerful runner, extremely good leg power.”
Oliver likes the ability and depth of his offensive line.
Starters are likely junior left tackle Zach Johnson (6-5, 240), left guard Dylan Morris (6-3, 230), center Zach Riddell (6-3, 205), right guard Cody Van Winkle (6-0, 205) and right tackle Indiana Miller (6-1, 225). Wyatt Franklin (5-11, 260), Chandler Willard (6-0, 210) and Braxton Lannan (6-0, 250) will also contribute.
Trent Vowell (5-11, 180) and Paul Goodman (6-0, 180) are the Miners’ tight ends, with Eaton playing wide receiver along with Kurtis Cox (5-9, 150).
The Miner defense will be led by Vowell, Goodman and Hale at outside linebacker, while Rupska, Van Winkle and Jace Herdon (5-8, 185) are the inside linebackers.
Morris, Riddell and Miller are the defensive ends, with Franklin, Jace Brewer (6-0, 300), Chandler and Johnson rotating at defensive tackle.
Eaton, Eberhardt and Cox play cornerback, while Hayden and sophomore Pierce Jackson (6-0, 165) are the safeties.
Everyone on the roster has been working hard all offseason to maintain the program’s success, Oliver said.
“I know being a part of the program, it’s important to keep it going,” Oliver said. “The kids know the tradition of Miner football so they’re working hard. That’s very important to them.”
Linton’s schedule has become more difficult with Sheridan replacing Union.
The perennial game against West Vigo is at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Miners’ toughest Class A sectional opponents are likely to be Perry Central and North Daviess.