Many people questioned how good South St. Paul would be this year after losing veteran talent, specifically first-team All-Metro player Sam Sura.
The Packers seemed to have found another star running back, Jake Hill, to hammer the football. Hill ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries Friday night in leading South St. Paul over Mahtomedi 17-7.
"He's phenomenal. He's stepped in," coach Chad Sexauer said. "We love Sam Sura and what he's done, but Jake Hill has stepped into some pretty big shoes and done a great job."
Three solid quarters would be enough for Class 4A, No. 3 South St. Paul, which moved to 4-0 after spoiling its Classic Suburban rival's homecoming.
Costly penalties and ill-timed turnovers doomed the Zephyrs. The Packers scored first with Aaron Lozano's foot, as he drilled a 25-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, the Zephyrs fumbled the football away to South St. Paul. Hill answered with his first touchdown, powering in behind monster offensive lineman Preston Woods.
With Mahtomedi threatening late in the first half, Nick Jerhoff intercepted the Zephyrs quarterback inside the red zone. The Packers have allowed only three first-half points in all four games this season.
"We're solid defensively. We feel like that's the strength of our team and that's something we want to continue to make the identity of our ballclub," Sexauer said.
Ontario Jackson added another interception for South St. Paul, leading to Hill's second touchdown.
Down 17-0, Mahtomedi made a fourth-quarter push behind Jackson Hull's seventh rushing touchdown of the season, but the Packers held on to remain unbeaten.