Hulne: Packer football team has come a long way

Published 7:09pm Monday, October 28, 2013

While the Packer football team may have had its season end in a lopsided loss to Owatonna on Saturday, the squad should have no regrets when it looks back at the past season.

Austin did something that is very hard to do in high school sports —they turned a struggling program into a promising one. There’s no doubt the Packers played a lot better football this season than they had in years past and the team’s win over Rochester Mayo in overtime was as big a victory I have covered in my six years at the Herald.

What this team did goes way beyond winning. They made football fun again and they made Friday nights something to look forward to instead of something to loathe.

I’ve always stood firm with the notion that high school sports should be as much about learning life lessons and building character as they are about winning and this year’s team had plenty of character.

The biggest advantage the Packers had was a strong senior class that showed maturity and class when that wasn’t always the case in their opponents. There was a moment in the Owatonna game, Saturday where the Huskies picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a pair of personal fouls in the third quarter when the game was well out of reach. Instead of retaliating or getting caught up in the nonsense, the Packers kept playing football and didn’t lose their cool. Austin also continued to play hard and didn’t quit, even though its season was all but over.

In those last two quarters, the Packers showed exactly what they have become this season —a group of players that will play their hearts out with class until the bitter end.

I hope the Austin underclassmen were paying attention this year, because the team’s seniors showed them plenty of lessons.

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