Vesel is lifting a program

Published 10:44 am Friday, October 18, 2013

It was inspiring to watch the Austin Packers football team Wednesday night, a team one season removed from a two-win season (including a forfeit), and a little longer past an 18-game losing streak.

The Pack beat the Mankato East Cougars to wrap up their regular season 4-4, and head into the playoffs with a three-game winning streak. But it’s the way they’ve won that’s getting the attention of many in town, and throughout the Big Nine. Austin dominated East 39-7, methodically moving the ball down the field for four scoring drives in the first half alone, and averaging nearly nine plays and 74 yards on those four trips into the endzone.

“It was awesome,” Austin senior defensive back Ethan Horstmann said after the game. “Just sitting on the sidelines and watch them score every time. There’s nothing better than that.”

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Only in his second season at the helm, head coach Brett Vesel has the team believing in itself, and I would guess fully expecting to knock off the 5-3 Faribault Falcons in the first round of the Section 1AAAAA tournament on Tuesday, a feat probably nearly unthinkable to anyone outside the program at the beginning of the year.

From the start, Vesel has been adamant about two things: getting more kids out for the sport, and a solid weightlifting program. A successful prep football program starts in the weightroom, and Vesel clearly understands this.

“It’s the backbone, the legs and the neck of the program,” Vesel said last winter, when the team’s four-day-a-week, off-season weightlifting regimen was in full swing. “If you don’t lift, you’re not going to win, and that’s the bottom line. Hopefully we can get these guys to buy into lifting consistently, and things hopefully can change.”

Check, and check.

To his other point, football is a numbers game, and a school the size of Austin should have no shortage of potential players. They already have a few new upperclassmen in Year 2, and hopefully the team’s numbers will continue to grow.

The Packers accomplished a lot this year, and are no doubt looking to build on their success next year. Winning is contagious, and the achievements of this year’s team will hopefully inspire a bevy of underclassmen to come out, and then hit the weightroom.