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Male Area Athlete of the Week: Price’s big game brings Aitkin to new heights

AustinPrice.jpeg
Austin Price.

Austin Price won’t be fazed by mistakes.

Instead, he will just keep plugging away at the defense he is facing until he wears his opponents down.

“My mindset has always been one play at a time,” Price said. “If I have a bad play, I just kind of forget about it. Even when I had that fumble against Crosby-Ironton I just went on to the next one because I can’t change it.”

The junior running back for Aitkin rushed for 175 yards on 24 carries to lead the Gobblers to their first section title game since 1995.

“It was really great,” Price said of the game. “Everyone was happy we got one more game with this group of seniors, so everyone was really pumped up.”

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Price is someone the Gobbler coaching staff has relied on heavily due to injuries and other circumstances, but he answered the call and stepped up for them all season. Gobblers head coach Alan Hills calls Price an old fashioned runner and someone players don’t want to get in the way of when he’s going downhill.

“He’s just a tough old school runner,” Hills said. “He runs downhill and has gotten better at his craft and sees the field a lot better than he did at the start of the season.”

Price played both offense and defense earlier in the year, but toward the end of the season he’s been strictly focused on running back. He carried the workload for the Gobblers offense getting the bulk of the carries, and not playing defense helped saved his legs a little bit to have big games at the end of the year.

Price’s running style won’t blow anyone away with speed, but will punch the opponent in the mouth with how physical he is.

“He’s going to run through you instead of around you,” Hills said.

As a freshman, Hills said Price was one of those kids who looked like he was junior already. He had great size and as he has grown older he has added some savvy to his game. His teammates often joke with him that he is the speed back, but when Price rushes for 175 yards on 24 carries they don’t joke about the production.

“He’s not going to be outrunning anyone,” Hills said. “But he does have decent speed for a kid his size and he is certainly not afraid to lower the shoulder.”

The game plan against Greenway in the Section 7-3A semifinals was something the Gobblers have been doing all year -- run.

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“That was the game plan to run the ball a lot more than pass it,” Price said. “That’s usually the game plan, but it was more so against Greenway than normal.

“In the second half the O-line started to get more of a push and open up enough seams for me and the other running backs to find the holes easier. The O-line had a lot more push.”

Besides making the section finals for the first time in 24 years, one of Price’s favorite memories of the 2019 Aitkin Gobblers is beating Mora on the road, something he said has not been done in a long time.

Price thinks he brings a little bit of an edge to the Aitkin squad, having been on the team since he was a freshman. He is still only a junior so he has another offseason to come back better for his senior season.

“For me, I think I have more experience than most running backs we go up against,” Price said. “I’ve been on varsity since I was a freshman -- not starting but just getting reps. I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work in the offseason and lifting weights and the O-line has been really great. We never get down at each other and yell at each other, we just play the game.”

Other notable performances:
Cross-country: Emmet Anderson, Staples-Motley, won the Section 6-1A meet in 15:48.4 to make it to state.
Bereket Loer, Wadena-Deer Creek, made it to state with a 17:34.4 time in the Section 8-1A meet.
Lucas Hinojos, Wadena-Deer Creek, made it to state with a 17:45.1 time in the Section 8-1A meet.
Ethan Johnson, Pequot Lakes, made it to state with a 17:03.6 time in the Section 7-1A meet.
Tucker Ringhand, Crosby-Ironton, made it to state with a 17:06.7 time in the Section 7-1A meet.

Austin Price

Year: Junior.

School: Aitkin.

Sport: Football.

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Position: Running back.

Highlights: Rushed for 175 yards on 24 carries to advance Aitkin into the Section 7-3A Finals.

Related Topics: LOCAL SPORTSAITKIN GOBBLERSFOOTBALL
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