Rocky Hulne: Packers have the familiar look of a contender

Published 12:52 pm Tuesday, September 8, 2020

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One of the best aspects of some fall sports being allowed has been that it meant that the Austin boys soccer team gets to do their thing again.

The No. 3 ranked Packers are once again loaded with talent as they have outscored their first two opponents 20-1 as they prepare for a showdown against Rochester Mayo on the road at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Austin is looking every bit a Big Nine contender as Henry Tolbert has been shaking off defenders and finishing goals, Andres Garcia has gracefully weaved through defenses and made plays for his team and starting keeper Casey Berg has yet to allow a goal.

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Not only do the Packers feature a lineup that has those three extremely talented captains, the team also has plenty of younger players on the rise.

Two names for Packer fans to get used to will be eighth graders Aiden Martinez and Joel Thwang, who are sure to be big playmakers for years to come. Martinez and Thwang didn’t blink in their first varsity game at Art Hass Stadium last week. They both showed they are ready to play under the bright lights as they each scored one goal.

The power the Packers have in soccer is not going anywhere anytime soon, but it will be a bummer that this year’s Packers aren’t able to compete in some sort of postseason. I believe a state tournament is probably out of the question with the limited postseason time the MSHSL has allotted, but it would be great if this group could go after a fourth straight Big Nine title.

Right now, it looks like the Packers would have to try and go out and win every time they take the field. They will have to remain focused, disciplined and motivated while there are more than the usual amount of distractions this fall.