Packers pumped for Red Wing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 19, 2002

The Austin Packer football team isn't looking backward, as the countdown to the Section 1AAA football playoffs continues to tick away. The No. 5 seeded Packers will line up against fourth-seeded Red Wing for the first time in two years. The last time the two teams met, the Wingers defeated the Packers by the score of 15-6 in a very hard fought battle.

Packer head coach Steve Knox said, "This will be a great match up between the No. 4 and No. 5 teams. The boys are really looking forward towards this game, they (Wingers) can run and throw the ball very well, but we feel we can overcome that," he said.

The game starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Red Wing.

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Even though the Packers ended the regular season with only one victory, the team has shown improvement. The defense is forcing turnovers, creating four fumbles (one recovered) and three interceptions in its loss to Mankato last week.

One week after the disappointing loss to Mankato West, Knox stated, "We went into the game knowing we had everything to gain and nothing to lose. The boys shut down a very good offense for almost three quarters. The defense was just on the field too long and they wore down."

The defense did keep the game close, but tired and gave up three fourth quarter touchdowns, which allowed Mankato West to have its way the last 15 minutes of the game.

There was no score at the half, but the Packers gave up four second half touchdowns.

Austin's only score came when the time clock hit zero, signaling the end of the game. The Packers drove 71 yards down the field using only eight plays to cross Mankato's goal line. The drive was highlighted by a 22-yard reception from quarterback Mark Cavanaugh to receiver Jesse Kruger.

Chris Stackenwalt had one catch for 49 yards, Nick Riley had 22 yards on two receptions and Nate Johnson picked one out if the air for 24 yards for the only touchdown as time ran off the clock. Cavanaugh had one grab for 7 yards and Mike Gravelle had one for 2 yards.

Mankato West was able to thwart any running attack the Packers could bring to them. Cavanaugh ran for 18 yards on nine carries and James Dammen touched the ball 10 times for only 11 yards, while teammate Andy Swank ran for 16 yards on four attempts.

Derek Hall contributed one run for 12 yards and fellow Packer Eric Ramirez carried the pigskin once for 7 yards, while Tucker Schieck had two carries for negative yardage.

Schieck captained the team most of the game, but was ineffective against Mankato's passing attack. Tucker had only four completions on 16 attempts for 30 yards. Cavanaugh had three completions on five attempts for 95 yards and one touchdown.

The Packers had 188 yards of total offense, 125 passing and 63 rushing yards to Mankato's 348 and managed nine first downs to West's 14.

Even though the game did not add another win to their season record, coach Knox still found some optimistic things to stay about the game. "Even though we lost the game, I feel we did some good things on the field. Mankato is ranked fifth in the state."

Knox went on to summarize that with the exception of the viral symptoms that are common this time of year, the team is healthy and is nursing no injuries. The team practices are showing a lot of intensity, and the team's spirit is high.

Other first round games include No. 7 Albert Lea at No. 2 Farmington and No. 6 Northfield at No. 3 Faribault. Waseca is the top seed for the second time in as may years and will receive a first round bye. The winner of the Packer/Winger game will play Waseca in round two.