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Warriors Athlete of Week: Former QB flourishes as running back

Paul Augustinack Sport: Football Position: Running back Year: Senior Age: 18 Height: 5-9 Other sports: Baseball Career highlight: Hitting walk-off single to beat Nebraska team in Cal Ripken Baseball 12-U region tournament Grade-point average: 4.0...

Brainerd’s Paul Augustinack runs the ball during the homecoming game against St. Cloud Tech. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)
Brainerd’s Paul Augustinack runs the ball during the homecoming game against St. Cloud Tech. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

Paul Augustinack

Sport: Football

Position: Running back

Year: Senior

Age: 18

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Height: 5-9

Other sports: Baseball

Career highlight: Hitting walk-off single to beat Nebraska team in Cal Ripken Baseball 12-U region tournament

Grade-point average: 4.0

Favorite class: Principles of Engineering

Favorite food: Steak, potatoes

Favorite movie: "Divergent"

Favorite TV show: "ESPN SportsCenter"

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Favorite website: Twitter

Hobbies: Photography

Future plans: Attend college, major in business or engineering

Favorite football player: Adrian Peterson

Parents: Ginger Augustinack & the late Steven Augustinack

Paul Augustinack went dashing through the snow against the Bemidji Lumberjacks Friday night.

The Brainerd senior running back carried 14 times for 129 yards in the Warriors' 40-14 loss to Class 5A's unbeaten and third-ranked Lumberjacks in a driving snowstorm on artificial turf at Bemidji State University. It snowed most of the game, which also featured a stiff wind and plummeting temperatures.

"It was definitely a tricky game," Augustinack said. "You had to adjust going from a full sprint to taking it one step at a time. The first thing after the first series I was told to slow down a little.

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"It's easy to run for 129 yards when you don't get touched until 10 or 15 yards down field. That's a credit to Eric Uphoff and the other linemen up front. They did a real nice job for me. It was a cold game. It was awful on turf. I can't imagine what it would have been like on grass."

After rushing for just 29 yards on six attempts in the first half, Augustinack erupted for 100 yards on eight carries in the second. It was his second 100-yard game of the season.

Augustinack has flourished despite shifting from quarterback, a position he had played almost his entire career, to running back this fall.

"Instead of having five quarterbacks we had only two or three real running backs so (the coaches) said let's look at you over here," he said. "My goal was to be the best player and the best teammate I could be.

"It's definitely been tricky, going from calling plays and handing off to receiving handoffs. It's a different position. It's been a challenge to learn a different position. But you make the adjustment and you learn. I feel I've progressed as the season has went on."

A change in positions isn't the only thing Augustinack has had to adjust to the last two years. As a sophomore he suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason.

"He literally through hard work has turned himself into a very good high school running back," Warriors coach Ron Stolski said. "His background was quarterback. I'm very impressed with his all-around game. He's one of the best blocking halfbacks we've had in quite a while. What he lacks a little bit in speed, he makes up in determination and effort. He's made himself into a player."

Unselfishness led to Augustinack being elected one of the Warriors' five captains and he has blossomed into one of their leaders.

"I'm never one to back down from picking up a (blocking) bag on my way up (the hill after practice)," he said. "I played a pretty big role in our Tackle Cancer game (in September), getting our whole team outfitted with Tackle Cancer bracelets and Tackle Cancer decals on our helmets. I'll do whatever I can to help our team realize what we're doing.

"Every day I try to bring my best. We're told never to go through the motions. That's something I continuously work on with other kids, don't go through the motions boys, we need to do this to get better. That's something I've been complimented highly on. I don't let them get away with easy things."

Stolski believes there are many ways an individual can lead and Augustinack leads in all of those areas.

"One of my personal definitions of a leader is one who turns the lights on in the morning and turns them off at night. Paul Augustinack is that kind of young man," Stolski said.

This year's Brainerd's Tackle Cancer effort raised $3,200 for the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund.

"Paul's a very diverse student-athlete in that he has interests beyond football, but one wouldn't know it," Stolski said. "When he hits the locker room he's all work. He's endlessly caring about others. All our kids are more than football players, but Paul is a football player who has a lot of eggs in many baskets, just not all in one. He's a model of service."

Tackle Cancer isn't the only service project that Augustinack has spearheaded. For the last several years, he's been making bracelets to benefit International Health Partners of Tanzania, an organization that helps build health care facilities and helps provide clean water and medicine.

"Over $5,000 has been donated from bracelets I decided to make when I was 11," he said. "I haven't done any in the last year or so, but a lot of times (interest) picks up from Thanksgiving to Christmas because people are looking for them."

Other notable efforts:

* Caitlin Steffen, Brooke Mimmack & Ashley Fitterer, tennis, qualified for the section individual tournament.

* David Supinski, cross country, won the boys race in the Crosby-Ironton Invite.

* Heather Fletcher, volleyball, had 16 kills vs. Sartell.

* Tedi Ramberg, volleyball, had 10 kills vs. Fergus Falls.

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at mike.bialka@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .

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