AUSTIN EDITION -- Packers, now 0-5, vow to work harder
By Guy N. Limbeck
Closer to victory. That's the feeling among the Austin football players.
The Packers played their third close game in five games on Friday against Winona. But the result was the same, a loss. Winona's 14-7 victory sent the Packers to 0-5.
"I think things will be getting better," senior James Dammen said.
The Austin players indicated after the game they won't quit working hard.
"Then they won't," Austin coach Steve Knox said.
The Packers play winless Rochester Century and Albert Lea the next two weeks. The Panthers and Tigers, like Austin, are both 0-5.
"We just have to work harder in practice and keep everyone going," senior quarterback Tucker Schieck said.
DAMMEN STEPS UP -- Dammen got to see his most action of the season at running back on Friday. His role may only increase because of the non-playing injury to senior running back Ray Bissen. Bissen punched a locker this past week breaking a bone in his hand. He had a cast on Friday and will likely miss the rest of the season.
"James has been wanting to get in the backfield," Knox said. "We're pleased with what he did tonight. He complements some of our other runners."
Dammen had a career-best 42 yards rushing on 11 attempts. He scored Austin's only touchdown on an 8-yard run in the fourth quarter. He also caught one pass for six yards.
"I felt good about my running today," Dammen said. "I felt good about it all week."
Junior Mark Cavanaugh paced the Packers in rushing for the third straight week with 59 yards on 17 attempts.
Fullback Mike Gravelle had a 20-yard run and a 14-yard reception on the same drive in the second quarter as the Packers drove to the Winona 16. After a penalty, the drive ended on downs at the Winona 23, however.
DEFENSIVE GEMS -- Jesse Krueger and Nate Johnson recovered fumbles on back-to-back Winona possessions at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter. Johnson's recovery set up Austin's lone touchdown.
"The defense gave us a couple of opportunities," Knox said.
Billy Anderson paced the Packers with 17 tackles and Krueger added 12.
The Packers were not able to sack Winona quarterback Andy Gappa, who threw 18 passes. Austin's offense did not have a turnover.
THAT'S SPECIAL -- The Packers received several strong special teams plays against the Winhawks. They tackled Winona punter Josh Cody in the backfield in the first quarter, setting up a scoring chance that came up short.
Nate Johnson had kickoff returns of 22 and 35 yards and Andy Swank had a 22-yard kickoff return. Swank's return came after the final Winona TD and set the Packers up with good field possession for their final drive.
"We had a couple of nice kickoff returns," Knox admitted.