While Vigo County deals with dozens of cases of chickenpox, the town of Linton in Greene County is facing a serious outbreak of Miner Fever.
“The whole town has Miner Fever,” said Becky Rhodenbeck, a victim of the fever who was shopping in downtown Linton Monday night.
Miner Fever is breaking out because the Linton High School football team, the Miners, is undefeated this season and just one victory away from a trip to the state championship for Class A schools. Friday night, they will host Indianapolis Scecina, the team that kept the Miners out of the state finals last year.
As Friday draws closer, the southern Greene County town of about 5,400, will quickly transform itself into a mass of red and blue, the school’s colors. Even at the start of the week, signs were popping up wishing the local football team success.
“This town will be crazy Friday,” said Stacy Lester, an employee of the Linton Family Pharmacy, which has been giving away free cowbells for fans to ring at Miner games all season. The pharmacy’s television commercial features business owner Jeff Doris and his 9-year-old daughter, Lilli, “prescribing” cowbells for fans suffering from “Miner Fever.”
The pharmacy has given away nearly 1,000 cowbells this season — enough to equip just less than 20 percent of the town’s population.
High school football is a “huge deal” in Linton, said Kelly Reburn, a longtime resident and graduate of Linton High School. “That the biggest sport for Linton.”
“Our blood runs red and blue here,” said J.P. Meurer, owner of J.P.’s Fish and Chips restaurant on the town’s main drag. Meurer’s son Joshewa played for the Miners as did J.P. himself back in the early 1980s. “Football is really something special here. We live it and breathe it.”
Meurer’s restaurant already has a sign on the door: Closing early Friday night for the game. Meurer said there will be standing-room-only for the semistate.
Even for Lintonians who stay home on Friday nights, the games are impossible to ignore. The ringing of cowbells and the cheers of the fans are audible a mile away, residents said. Reburn said she doesn’t enjoy football, but, as a proud graduate of Linton High School, she can’t deny having “Miner pride.”
Linton has a strong football tradition and kids start playing young. “They start when they’re five years old,” Rhodenbeck said.
No matter what happens Friday night, Linton can be proud of an undefeated regular season, which ended with a 68-0 trouncing of North Central in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. In that game, the Miners also made history when their placekicker, Dyllanne Deischer, became the first female to play football in Lucas Oil Stadium.
A return trip to Indianapolis for the state championship is what’s on the line Friday. When the Miners played their regular season finale in the state capital, bus loads of Lintonians arrived two hours early, Meurer said.
“We took a bunch,” recalled Mayor John Wilkes, who expects Linton to triumph this weekend.
If he’s right, not even prescription cowbells will be able to contain Miner Fever.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org