AUSTIN EDITION -- Austin faces big challenge on road
Packers take two-game winning streak into Faribault
By Guy N. Limbeck
Austin is riding high with a two-game winning streak going into Friday's Big Nine Conference football game at Faribault. Coach Tim Hermann remains very cautious, however.
"I get nervous when I see a real big team," Hermann said.
With several big players, including 6-foot-6, 325-pound Mitch Kuntz, the Falcons (1-1) are bigger than the Packers.
"They're huge and they're very physical," Hermann said.
"It will be interesting to see what we can do," the coach added. "I think the big question for us is can we put the pressure on them."
And a big question might also be which Faribault team shows up. The Falcons beat Rochester John Marshall in the league opener only to be outscored 55-22 by Mankato East a week ago.
"We're making too many mistakes right now defensively and offensively to be consistent in the Big Nine," Faribault coach Andy Meschke said.
The Packers (2-0 overall and Big Nine) hope to exploit any mistakes the Falcons make.
"I think it's difficult for them to match up to a team will good speed," Hermann said of Faribault.
The Packers will try to use their speed on offense to get outside and create big plays.
"A challenge for us will be to get to the perimeter," Hermann said.
Last week Austin quarterback Mark Cavanaugh ran for 106 yards while Andy Swank rushed for two short touchdowns. Cavanaugh also has three touchdowns passes in the first two games, including two to Nate Johnson in the opener.
"Defensively we have to play our assignments and not worry about what Austin is doing with formations and the option," Meschke said.
On defense, Hermann said the Packers must control the gaps. The defensive lineman must move out blockers so the linebackers can make plays. The Packers linebackers have been an active group all season. Josh Hall and Marcus Ball have had two strong games at linebacker while David Larson, who sat out the opener with an injury, had an interception a week ago.
Hall, a 170-pound middle linebacker, has been the most active of the trio.
"He's been all over, going sideline to sideline," Hermann said. "He's a little undersized, but he's real physical and runs well."
The Falcons also have a big wide receiver in 6-2 Pat Smith, who could be a challenge for Austin cornerbacks Kyle Spinler, Adam Edge and Tony Bissen, who are all under 5-foot-11.
Meschke said the Falcons would like to control the ball on offense, however.
"I would imagine we're going to try and run the ball," he said.
A victory would keep the Packers perfect on the season, in Hermann's first year with the team.
"With a new coaching staff and system, the kids look to see if what you're doing is successful," Hermann said.
And so far, so good.
BOX; Austin at Faribault
7 p.m., Friday
Records: Austin 2-0 overall, Big Nine; Faribault 1-1, 1-1.
Last game: Austin beat Rochester Century 28-14; Faribault lost 55-22 to Mankato East.
Last meeting: Faribault beat the Packers 19-14 in Faribault a year ago.
Faribault notes: The Falcons have a decent casting of returning skills players. Quarterback Ryan Cross, running back Dan Ressler and wide receiver Pat Smith are all returning starters. Cross tossed a touchdown pass win last year's win over Austin, but was only 4-for-11 for 80 yards overall. Smith had two of the catches for 18 yards while Ressler was held to a modest 30 yards on seven carries.
Austin notes: The Packers are off to their first 2-0 start since the 1998 season. Junior backup quarterback Jake Krueger is nearly recovered from a broken collarbone. He is expected to be in pads for Friday's game. Austin coach Tim Hermann said the offensive key for the Packers will be to sustain some drives. A week ago Austin had three scoring drives of 20 yards or less. "We can't expect that to happen every week," Hermann said.
Radio: KAUS-AM (Austin, 1480).