Packers are preparing for a season of change

Published 6:26 pm Monday, July 24, 2023

The season of change has been in full swing this summer for the Austin Packer football team as the squad adjusts to moving down to Class AAAA, while also introducing some new coaches and new players to the center stage.

Austin is wrapping up its summer camp this week and approximately 100 players from fifth through 12th grade have all received a crash course on what to expect this upcoming season. For players like junior Sam Winkels, who played varsity football last year, it’s more of a refresher.

“Going to varsity is much faster compared to lower levels and it helps having that experience,” Winkels said. “Now we’re ready for it.”

Email newsletter signup

Austin head coach Ed Schmitt has been spending the summer adjusting to a new group of assistant coaches that includes former Packer quarterback Tate Hebrink, former Austin defensive back Jesse Synoground, Lyle Allen, Blake Harris and Mario Carter.

“It’s a lot of learning. We’ve got five new coaches and they’re learning who the kids are and we’re adjusting to schemes and positions,” Schmitt said. “I told the kids, it doesn’t matter if you’re a one or two year starter, it’s a clean slate. They’ve got to earn it.”

Hebrink has already been at work tutoring Austin senior quarterback Dakota Retterath, who is moving back to the position after a two-year hiatus. Retterath played quarterback as a freshman, he was hurt his sophomore year and he played defense last season.

“Tate’s helped me a lot with some of the different techniques he used when he played,” Retterath said.

Austin went 2-7 overall last season, but the team will see a brand new schedule this fall with three unique opponents that it has no background information on. Austin will open the season at home against Watertown-Mayer at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1.

“We’ve been going to youtube trying to find highlights and we’ll run some different stuff that we did last year,” Schmitt said. “After the first scrimmages, we’ll go through as much film as we can and by the time we get to the fourth game, we’ll have more and more film. It’s been pretty weird and a lot different, so it’s an adjustment for us.”

Besides getting to know some new faces this summer, the Packers have also gained steam towards the upcoming season. Senior Peyton Ransom can’t wait to get the pads on and play on Friday nights again.

“It helps your confidence to play at a younger age. Hopefully we’ll do better this year,” Ransom said. “We’re motivated and I think it will be fun to play some different opponents this year and we’re hoping to get more wins than last year.”