Packers and Rebels tune up

Published 5:32 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Austin's Andrew Allen finds himself surrounded by Southland defenders after making a catch during a scrimmage in Austin Tuesday night. -- Rocky Hulne/

Despite its lack of experience, the Austin football team is slowly coming along this summer and that showed in a seven-on-seven passing scrimmage against Southland at Art Hass Stadium Tuesday night.

While things started bad for the Austin offense, there were some highlights late in the scrimmage when Sean Coffey hit Brett Lukes for a score on a roll-out and Andrew Allen found Dan Gatbel on a 40-yard bomb down the right sideline.

Email newsletter signup

“We’ve gotten better, but we still have a ways to go,” Austin head football coach Matt Schmit said. “There was a lot of youth out there, but anytime you can get live reps for those younger guys, it’s important.”

Austin's Dan Gatbel hauls in a deep pass as Southland's Travis Bruggeman defends during a scrimmage between the two teams at Art Hass Stadium Tuesday. -- Rocky Hulne/

Besides Coffey and Allen, the Packers played two other quarterbacks and the foursome finished by completing 16-of-42 with three interceptions to go along with the two scores. While the completion percentage was low, it didn’t help that the Packer receivers had more than a few drops.

“We’ve got four guys (vying for the quarterback spot) and maybe more that we’ll try out,” Schmit said. “They all have some good things they can bring to the table and they all have things they need to work on.”

While Austin had just a handful of seniors in the mix on Tuesday, Schmit said his youngsters have put in a lot of work this offseason. He said a a group of 25-30 players have been working hard the entire summer.

“Those 30 kids and our coaches have worked hard and now we need the whole team,” Schmit said. “We need kids to stay eligible and stick with us. We can’t do it with just 30 kids, but they have shown improvement.”

The scrimmage was the second one against the Rebels for Austin this summer and Schmit is glad to have Southland nearby to push his team.

“Shawn Kennedy does a great job with his program and they have some very good athletes,” Schmit said. “They’re as good as anybody we’ll see in the Big Nine as far as skill positions go. To have them come over and work with us, it helps us tremendously.”

Austin’s next offseason activity will be its youth camp, which runs from Aug. 8-12. The camp, which usually draws 100 players, is for fourth through ninth graders and it will run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

“It’s a great time and the kids have a lot of fun,” Schmit said.

Austin will hold its first practice of the year with Midnight Madness on Aug. 15 at 12:01 a.m. under the lights at Art Hass Stadium.


Southland’s Decker Bendtsen knows he still has a lot of work to do.

But he has to be feeling a little better after a solid performance in a seven-on-seven passing scrimmage at Austin Tuesday.

Southland quarterback Decker Bendtsen fires a pass during an inter-squad scrimmage with Austin at Art Hass Stadium Tuesday. -- Rocky Hulne/

Bendtsen, a junior who will take over at quarterback for the Rebels this fall, threw an interception on his first series of scrimmage. But he recovered from that point, completing 25-of-34 passes while connecting on five scores.

He found Tyler Kressin and Mike Goergen for 40-yard lobs over the top.

“We have a good running game coming back from last year and Sam Noterman was a good quarterback last year,” Bendtsen said. “He’s gone and I’ve got some big shoes to fill, so it’s good to get some reps in and get ready for the season.”

The Southland football team had its team mini-camp earlier this summer and now its counting down the days until practice starts.

“Only 19 more days,” Nick Schmitz, who hauled in two scores, said. “We’ve got a lot of different guys coming back. We’ve just got to keep it to the grindstone and keep working hard. We haven’t proved anything yet this year, but we’re ready to lace up and it should be fun.”

While the season waits, the Rebels were glad to get in some good practice time with a Big Nine team on its own field.

“It helps us get our communication down with the movements and what we’re supposed to be doing,” Bendsten said. “We’re anxious (for the season), but we’re staying humble.”