Packers overcome illness to beat Red Wing

Published 10:52 pm Friday, September 8, 2017

RED WING — The Austin football team was swamped with a flu virus for much of the week, but the Packers were still able to gut it out and find a way to beat Red Wing 43-8 on the road Friday. The win gives the Packers their first 2-0 overall start since the fall of 2009,

Austin head coach Brett Vesel said the team had 10 starters battling the sickness all week and many of them missed multiple practices throughout the week.

“We were actually lucky to put a team out there today,” Vesel said. “It was a tough week of practice. We had a lot of guys sick and you could see them getting tired at the end. I’m proud of the guys.”

The Austin defense teams up to bring down Red Wing’s Mac DeSutter in the backfield in Red Wing Friday. Rocky Hulne/

Email newsletter signup

Austin led 7-0 after a three-yard Joe Seeman run in the first quarter, but the offense picked up in the second quarter. Tate Hebrink hit Gavin Owens for a five-yard TD on fourth down to make it 14-0 with 5:25 left in the first half and then he hit Connor Byram on a 19-yard fade for a TD on fourth and 17 to make it 21-0 with 54 seconds left. Austin forced a quick turnover and Hebrink hit Luke Hawkshead on a 42-yard bomb to set up another Byram TD catch, this one a two-yard grab that made it 28-0 at the break.

Byram, a 6-3 junior, is emerging as one of Hebrink’s go-to receivers as he also had a big game in the season-opening win against Rochester Mayo.

“We had three of our receivers from last year graduate and Tate and I had a connection in practice. I had to step up,” Byram said. “We all just pushed through [tonight] it this week with everybody being out and and our back ups stepped up.

Joe Seeman plunges into the end zone for an Austin touchdown against the Wingers in Red Wing Friday. Rocky Hulne/

Hawkshead was limited at receiver due to him being sick, but he made an impact on the game at linebacker as he had a sack and a fumble recovery. He said the Packers simply had to find a way to compete on Friday.

“We just had to not overlook them. The biggest thing was to come out with energy and play hard,” Hawkshead said. “We were missing some guys and I felt terrible today and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it school today. The whole team real stepped up.”

The Packers will host Owatonna (2-0 overall) Friday at 7 p.m.

“We feel good about ourselves right now,” Vesel said. “We’ve got a really tough opponent coming up in Owatonna and they’re one of the top teams in the state. We’re continuing to get better and we’ve still got a ways to go.”

Connor Byram hauls in a TD pass against Red Wing in Red Wing Friday. Rocky Hulne/


RW 0     0  8  0  –  8

Austin 7  21   8  7  –  43

First quarter

(A) Joe Seeman 3 run (Andrew Schumacher kick) (7 plays, 42 yards) 2:30

Second quarter

(A) Gavin Owens 5 pass from Tate Hebrink (Schumacher kick) (12 plays, 63 yards) 5:25

(A) Connor Byram 19 pass from Hebrink (Schumacher kick) (9 plays, 49 yards) :54

(A) Byram 2 pass from Hebrink (Schumacher kick) (4 plays, 60 yards) :04

Third quarter

(RW) Sam Kelly 46 run (Seth Yeatman from Marcus Walm) (5 plays, 84 yards) 8:04

(A) Sam Hagan 15 run (kick failed) 1 play, 15 yards) 4:50

(A) safety (1 play, 0 yards) 9:16

Fourth quarter

(A) Peter Conner 44 fumble return (Schumacher kick) (1 play, 44 yards) 5:02


Rushing:Sam Hagan, 20-for-48, TD; Joe Seeman, 12-for-29, TD; Tate Hebrink 8-for-8; Aiden Wilson, 1-for-3; Andrew Chesak, 1-for-(-2)

Passing: Hebrink, 14-for-29, 205, 3 TD, 2 INT

Receiving:Andrew Schumacher, 6-for-98; Connor Byram, 4-for-52, 2 TDs; Luke Hawkshead, 1-for-42; Gavin Owens, 2-for-11, TD; Nate Murphy, 1-for-2

Defense: Owens, 1 interception; Hawkshead, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery; Peter Conner, fumble recovery

Penalties: 2-for-15


Rushing: 162

Passing: 7

Penalties: 13-for-134