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Dunlap taking lessons learned to the next level

Austin senior Nick Dunlap has learned a tough life lesson through sports, and now he’s ready to make his second chance count.

Dunlap was off to a great start to his senior season for the Packer football team this past fall as he was leading the team in tackling. Austin had won its first two games under first year head coach Ed Schmitt.

However, Dunlap’s season went crashing down when he was ejected in each of Austin’s next two games — causing him to miss the rest of the season.

After pondering a bout with playing junior hockey, Dunlap has decided to get back on the gridiron as he has committed to play football at Division III UW-River Falls next season.

“Part of (deciding to play football at UWRF) was the fact that my senior season didn’t go as well as I was hoping it would. Another part of it is that I wanted to go to college and move on in life and I didn’t know what junior hockey would give me,” Dunlap said. “(Missing those games) makes me really kick myself in the butt to go harder than I’ve gone before. I’ve been getting outside for some workouts and this summer I’ll be doing a lot of football related workouts. I can’t wait to get into camp in August.”

Schmitt said that Dunlap had to learn a lot this past fall. Dunlap not only lost his role as a team captain, he also lost all of his remaining time on the field after just four games.

“He really saw the impact he had on the positive end and the negative end,” Schmitt said. “As a captain, he was really helping the younger kids out and he was our leading tackler. Losing him really hurt our defense.”

Schmitt said Dunlap is a smart player who figured out the defense quickly and he expects Dunlap to be successful in life, especially when he learns to be less impulsive.

Dunlap, who also played hockey and baseball for the Packers, said he has learned to think a little harder when he’s on the field.

“Last season taught me that not everything is in your control and the perception of things that happen isn’t the same for everybody,” Dunlap said. “Me, my dad and coach Schmitt talked about it and I’ve got to be more in control of my actions, because even if I don’t do something, someone might perceive it differently.”

Dunlap is now looking forward to playing with the Falcons, where Austin grad Jake Halsey plays on the defensive line. Dunlap is expecting to play safety, but he won’t be afraid to get near the line of scrimmage and deliver some contact.

“Being undersized makes people think I’m at a disadvantage, but the way I play, it’s not a disadvantage at all,” Dunlap said. “It just means I get there faster. I’m excited about August.”

The Falcons finished with a record of 2-8 overall last fall.