South St. Paul senior Cade Sexauer looks for an open receiver Friday night against Tartan at Ettinger Field. Sexauer threw two touchdown passes in the 34-6 victory over the Titans. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
South St. Paul junior Jackson Luhrs stretches for the goal line on a touchdown reception against Tartan Friday night at Ettinger Field. The Packers defeated the Titans 34-6. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Ahead of Friday’s opener, South St. Paul coach Chad Sexauer had some pregame jitters.
Not only was he starting a new quarterback, the Packers’ new signal-caller was the son of the South St. Paul head coach.
“I was probably more nervous than he was. I’ve been watching him play quarterback since he was very young,” Sexauer said.
For Sexauer, those nerves dissipated quickly. Cade Sexauer threw two touchdowns in the first half as the Packers (1-0) rolled past Suburban Grey district rival Tartan (0-1) 34-6 at Ettinger Field in St. Paul.
This wasn’t Cade Sexauer's first go-around under center. Growing up, the senior quarterback had played the position, including as a sophomore on South St. Paul’s B-Squad team.
As a junior, however, the younger Sexauer’s focus was on the defensive side of the ball. He played linebacker as the Packers made a run to the Class 4A state tournament.
But with no one in front of him now, 2017 is about Cade Sexauer leading South St. Paul as the team’s quarterback.
“I think it’s harder for him than me,” Chad Sexauer said. “I tend to go a little tougher on him than the other guys. I mainly just try to stay on the defensive side of the ball.”
For Cade Sexauer, it’s something he’s gotten used to.
“There are obviously a lot of expectations and a few disagreements, but I’m used to it,” Cade Sexauer said. “He’s been my coach since I was four years old. He’s been there every step of the way.”
Friday’s game proved to be a strong start. The Packers’ first drive of the game, which went for nearly eight minutes, ended with no points as the Titans held strong at the two-yard line.
After that, it was smooth sailing for South St. Paul, with Cade Sexauer moving on the ground as part of the Packers’ punishing running attack. He opened the scoring with a 25-yard touchdown strike to senior wideout Alexander Rabelo.
South St. Paul continued to show off its air attack when Cade Sexauer connected with receiver Jackson Luhrs for a 31-yard score.
“We’ve thrown the ball a lot more in practice and I think that has raised the confidence of everyone,” Cade Sexauer said.
With the Packers leading 17-6 at the half, South St. Paul went back to its traditional ground-and-pound offense. The Packer defense gave its offense great field position and South St. Paul senior running back Chase Benston cashed in with two rushing touchdowns.
With the lead, Cade Sexauer threw the ball just once in the final two quarters.
“[Running] is what we’ve done for the past few years,” Chad Sexauer said. “It’s our bread and butter.”
The Packers dominant second half was fueled by Tartan mistakes. Heading into Friday’s game, the Titans were already given a tough task in a difficult opponent. However, it was also the first game for new Tartan coach Matthew Diediker, who took over a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2012.
“A lot of those mistakes had to do with experience,” Diediker said. “There are going to be some bumps in the road. [South St. Paul] has an advantage being together for all these years.”
While Tartan focuses on learning from previous years and improving, South St. Paul is focused on maintaining previous success. The Packers have made the state tournament for two consecutive seasons. This year, South St. Paul not only wants to make it to the tournament, but make a run.
“One of the biggest things we have to do this year is figure out how to play against bigger teams,” Cade Sexauer said. “That’s what we have to do if we want to get out of the first round this year.”
If the rest of the season is anything like Friday’s win, South St. Paul should expect more November football.
For South St. Paul and Packers senior quarterback Cade Sexauer, Friday’s season-opener against Tartan could not have gone any better.
Sexauer started the 2017 season with two first-half touchdown passes. His early passing attack allowed the Packers (1-0) to roll to a 34-6 victory against Suburban Grey district rival Tartan (0-1) at Ettinger Field.
After the Titans stopped South St. Paul at the Tartan 2-yard line in the first quarter, the Packers broke through drive after drive with Sexauer moving on the ground and in the air. He opened the scoring with a 25-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Alexander Rabelo. His second touchdown pass was to junior wideout Jackson Luhrs, a 31-yard catch and run.
In the second half, South St. Paul’s running attack took over. Packers senior running back Chase Bentson scored twice in the third quarter, from 1 yard and 5 yards out, respectively. Kicker Samuel Rohrer added to the Packers’ attack with a pair of 29-yard field goals.
The Titans were unable to break through much against a staunch South St. Paul defense. Tartan’s lone score came in the second quarter when Titans senior running back Trae Martin scampered 80 yards.
Tartan senior Trae Martin breaks into the open field on an 80-yard touchdown run Friday night against South St. Paul at Ettinger Field. The Titans fell to the Packers 34-6. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
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