Trewyn.jpg

Semi-final Loss Ends Warhawks' Season

10514633_883865878298849_1112987925022232693_n.png

According to an age-old saying, speed kills.  Well, Mary Hardin-Baylor’s speed didn’t kill the Warhawks on Saturday, but it sure contributed to the end of their season.  After nearly a quarter of the defensive struggle the Hawks favor, the Crusaders took possession on their own 38 yard line. The Crusaders overcame a 3rd and 14 and 2nd and 21 predicaments to go the distance on a 12 play, 62 yard drive.  The drive was capped with a brilliant leap dive into the end zone by back up quarterback DeNarian Thomas. Thomas launched at the three, was immediately hit by Warhawk safety Baily Breunig, and did a complete flip towards the end zone. Freshman wide receiver Aaron Sims converged on the scene and was able to push the flipping Thomas into the end zone. 

         After a Warhawk fumble gave the Crusaders a first down on their own 46 yard line, they were able to put some more points on the board.  A nine play, 43 yard drive leading to a field goal gave Mary Hardin-Baylor a 10-0 lead.  While not ideal, the deficit didn’t pull the Warhawks out of their comfort zone.  They knew a two score game in the second quarter was more than manageable.  However, when their next drive went nowhere, they were forced to punt for the fourth time in five possessions. Sims fielded the punt at his own 10 on the numbers on his right side. Sims angled toward the left sideline and sprinted forward as a Crusader blocking line formed. Sims went the distance and the Hawks would go into the halftime break with a very uncomfortable 17-0 decificit.

         The Hawks came out strong in the third quarter. They held the Crusaders to (-1) yard on their first  possession.  After the ensuing punt, the Hawks took over on their own 31 yard line.  The Hawks proceeded to drive 66 yards in eight plays, capped by a two yard touchdown pass from Cole Wilber to tight end Bryce Bellefeuille the Warhawks were on the board.  After another defensive stop, the Hawks clearly had momentum on their side as they took over at their own 36.

         After a lost fumble temporarily stalled the momentum. But when UHMB faced a fourth and nine at the Warhawk 27, Mackenzie Balanganayi hit quartback Jace Hammack just as he threw. The ball floated to linebacker Bryce Leszczynski who grabbed it and raced 64 yards to the Crusader 14 yard line. 

         In the best position to turn this game into a barn-burner, the Warhawks were 14 yards from a 17-14 deficit with nearly  five minutes left in the third quarter.  But the Hawks weren’t able to score and after a missed field goal, Mary Hardin-Baylor took over at their own 20.  They kept the ball for seven plays and gained 29 yards before they were forced to punt.  While they didn’t score, they were able to flip the field position and take the game into the fourth quarter.

         On the next series, UMHB safety Keith Gipson intercepted a pass along the sideline at the Whitewater 38. The Crusaders took advantage of their favorable field position, scoring in just four plays to extend their lead to 24-7.

         But the Warhawks wouldn’t fold, responding with an 11 play 75 yard touchdown drive.  Ronny Ponick scored from one yard out to cap the drive and the Hawks were back within 10 at 24-14.  But the Crusaders recovered the ensuing on-sides kick and salted the game away with a 46 yard touchdown drive to provide the final margin of 31-14.

         The loss breaks a 19 game UW-W winning streak.  The 2018 WIAC Champions finished with a record of 13-1.

Take-Aways Fuel Advance to Semi’s

10514633_883865878298849_1112987925022232693_n.png

 

     If not handled correctly, poor weather can end a season quickly.  UW-Whitewater made sure Bethel University experienced that painful truth on a cold, rainy, and windy December afternoon at Perkins Stadium on Saturday.  Fueled by a blocked punt and four interceptions, the Warhawks took a 26-12 decision and advanced to the national semi-finals where they will play Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday in Belton, Texas.

         With the weather a clear and present danger, ball security became even a greater priority.  This was going to be a game won by the team that could dominate the line of scrimmage and secure the football.  A combination of superior line play on both sides of the ball and a determined effort to take care of the football won the day on this wet afternoon.

         Several factors separated two excellent teams on Saturday.  The ability to adapt to the weather adversity, the ability to control the line of scrimmage in the running game, and the ability to stay patient in a game of high magnitude all led to a tremendous Warhawk victory.

         With wind and a wet football causing long snaps, passes, and kicks of every form to go haywire, this was a good day to keep the ball as covered up as possible.  To both teams’ credit, neither fumbled all day. However, when Baily Breunig broke through and blocked a first quarter punt, the Hawks seized the momentum, sensing a breakthrough in the slugfest.  While the Hawks weren’t able to turn the blocked punt into a touchdown, Wojciech Gasienica’s 30 yard field goal enabled the Hawks to play from the lead.

         On the Royals’ next possession, QB Jaren Roste attempted to hit wide receiver Jon Pytlak on a short slant pattern. The ball bounced off Pytlak’s hands and into the arms of Warhawk safety Mark McGrath.  McGrath returned the ball 26 yards to the Bethel 16 yard line.  Four plays later, Ronny Ponick ran behind the interior of the Warhawk offensive line and burst into the end zone from five yards out.  A weather affected snap-hold miscue caused the extra point to fail and the Hawks led 9-0 with just over two minutes left in the first quarter. 

         On Bethel’s next possession, the Royals faced a 3rd and 12 from their own 30.  They lined up three receivers to the wide side of the field.  The outside receiver, Drew Larson, ran a slant route to the first down sticks.  The Hawks were in a nickel zone and Larson attempted to hit the gap between Baily Breunig (short zone) and Jacob Frey (deep zone).  As Roste’s pass neared Larson, Breunig reached out and was able to get a hand on the ball. The ball caromed near Larson and Frey, who had converged on the receiver.  Executing the “tip drill” perfectly, Frey was able to bat the ball in the air and it sailed back to within Breunig’s reach. Breunig made the interception at the 45, returned it to the Bethel 27, and the Hawks were in business once again.  This time it took only one play for the Warhawks to add to their lead. Quarterback Cole Wilber feigned a sprint out left and handed the ball off to Ponick on a draw play.  Ponick drove through a seam on the right side of the Bethel defensive line and immediately found himself in the second level of the defense. The then outran one defensive back, stiff armed another, and sprinted into the end zone for the Warhawks second touchdown. The point after gave the Hawks a 16-0 lead 13 minutes into the game. 

         On the next drive the Hawks defense held the Royals offense to another three and out.  Bethel lined up to punt on the first play of the second quarter.  The ball squirted out of the punter’s hands. He scrambled back and dove on the ball, but it was a devastating 20 yard loss, giving the Warhawks the ball on the Bethel 11.  Once again, the Warhawks cashed in on their golden opportunity. Alex Peete carried for 10 yards to the one.  It then took three more attempts, but Peete crashed into the end zone on third down and the Hawks increased their lead to 23-0.

         Bethel added a couple of touchdown drives with failed conversion attempts near the end of the half to cut the lead to 23-12 at half time.  In the second half, the Hawks focused on the running game and ball security.  Meanwhile, the defense locked Bethel down, limiting the Royals’ five drives to 89 yards on 25 plays.  The drives ended with three punts and two interceptions. The Warhawks added a second half field goal to provide the final 26-12 margin.  Meanwhile, the Warhawks’ offensive line and running backs put the exclamation point on the victory. Garrett Purdy intercepted a Roste pass at the UW-W 34 with 5:09 remaining in the game.  The Hawks drained the entire clock with 10 running plays in a classic UW-W finish. The Hawks now travel to Belton, Texas to play Mary Hardin-Baylor in a national semifinal game.  Kickoff is set for 2:30 PM Central Time.

Hawks Pound St. Norbert: Bethel Up Next

Cole-Wilber.jpg

 St. Norbert came into their second round playoff game against UW-Whitewater as the fourth ranked team in the nation in defending the run.  They walked out 33rd.  Led by a peaking offensive line and irrepressible running backs,  the Warhawks, , pounded the Green Knights for 397 yards rushing on 55 carries in their 54-21 second round NCAA Playoff victory.

            The Hawks put to touchdowns on the board in the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead.  After the Warhawks limited St. Norbert to five yards on their first possession, Bailey Breunig blocked the ensuing punt and UW-W was in business at the St. Norbert 21.  Four plays later, Alex Peete scored from the one and Whitewater led 7-0.  Later in the quarter, the Hawks put together a 7 play, 80 yard drive.  Ryan Wisniewski covered the final 40 yards on a reverse, giving the Warhawks a 14-0 lead.   

            St. Norbert responded with a 60 yard drive to cut the lead to 14-7. On the scoring play, quarterback Drew Rhodes bobbled a high snap and actually caught the ball with his back to the end zone.  His momentum carried him to left but he found Jordan Brand and Merritt Stott in hot pursuit. Rhodes pivoted athletically and moved to his right.  He got rid of the ball just as he was getting hit and connected with Brandon Dudley who was angling by himself in the corner of the end zone.

            The Warhawks responded with an 82 yard drive that culminated in a 26 yard field goal by Wojciech Gasienica and a 17-7 lead.  But the Green Knights had plenty of fight left in them.  On their next possession, St. Norbert drove 69 yards for their second touchdown of the afternoon.  Drew Rhodes threw a 25 yard scoring strike to Samuel Staehling, cutting the Warhawk lead to 3 points after the successful extra point.  

            The Warhawks made sure St. Norbert didn’t get any closer.  The Hawks took possession at their own 27 with 3:23 left in the first half.  UW-W proceeded on a 73 yard scoring drive, culminating with an incredible14 yard Mitchell Dess scoring catch.  Whitewater led 24-14 at the half. 

            UW-W started fast in the second half.  On the third play from scrimmage, Nate Tranel picked off a Rhodes pass at the 30 and returned it to the 28.  Two plays later, Alex Peete scampered 28 yards for a touchdown and a 31-14 Warhawk lead. 

            After holding St. Norbert once again, the Hawks drove 46 yards to a Gasienica 30 yard field goal.  34-14 Warhawks.  The Green Knights drew a bit closer when they drove 76 yards for a third touchdown. That was the second time the UW-W defense gave up three touchdowns in a game all year.  With a 34-21 lead early in the fourth quarter, Cole Wilber hit Derek Kumerow in the left corner of the end zone for an 18 yard touchdown, capping a 75 yard drive.  The Warhawk lead was back to 20 at 41 to 21. 

            The Warhawks would allow the Green Knights  no closer.  On the very next play after Kumerow’s touchdown, Famus Hasty intercepted Rhodes and returned it 48 yards to the house and the Warhawks led 48-21. 

            After another Hasty interception, the Hawks took 6:48 off the clock in driving 80 yards to their final score of the afternoon.  Cole Wilber hit JT Parish for a 39 yard touchdown to put the final margin at 54-21 and a ticket to the NCAA Quarterfinal game next week.  UW-W will host Bethel University at noon next Saturday for the right to advance to the national Semi-Finals.

           

A Fan’s Guide to St. Norbert

 

Numbers To Watch

 When St. Norbert has the ball:

 #15 Drew Rhodes  6’0”  185 lbs  Quarterback

Rhodes is the ultimate team guy. After being the starting quarterback his junior year in High School at Waukesha West, he was moved to safety his senior year.

 Rhodes never threw a pass in college before this year. Last year, the all-around athlete was the Green Knight’s primary punt and kickoff returner.

 This year, he has double the rushing yardage of any other Green Knight with 772 yards. He has completed 130 passes in 221 attempts for 1465 yards and 11 touchdowns. Rhodes has been intercepted eight times.

 #80  Samuel Staehling  6’1” 190 lbs Wide Receiver

3rd Team Pre-season All-American.  In 2017 Staehling caught 41 balls for 916 yards and 16 touchdowns. With a change to a triple option emphasis with the offense this year, Staehling remains dangerous but his numbers are down.  He has caught 25 passes for 388 yards and four touchdowns.  Now that they are in round two of the playoffs, don’t be surprised if St. Norbert opens things back up and tries to rely more on Staehling.

 #3  Matt Galanopoulos  5’10”   185 lbs  Wide Receiver

Galanopoulos is the Knights leading receiver this year.  He has 33 receptions for 298 yards and three touchdowns.  He is also the Green Knights’ primary kick and punt returner, averaging 21.1 and 10.1 yards per return respectively.

 

St. Norbert has an offense that will try to control the ball and work the clock. They will not likely put a bunch of points on the board, but they will try to control the time of possession to get the game into the fourth quarter.

 

When UW-W has the ball:

 #47  Matt Gurgone  6’1”   190  lbs   Linebacker

Gurgone has intercepted five passes and returned three of them for touchdowns.  Gurgone also leads the Green Knights in sacks with 6.0 and tied for the lead in forced fumbles with five.

 #50  Matt Barrett  6’1”  215 lbs   Linebacker

Barrett leads the team in tackles by a wide margin with 88.  he also has 4.5 sacks to his credit.

 #51   Mike Olijnyk   6’2”  225  lbs   Linebacker

Olijnyk is second on the team in tackles, including a team leading 19.5 tackles for loss. Olijnyk also has 4.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.

 This is a defense that is athletic and used to dominating it’s opponents. It will be a good test for the UW-W offense.  The Warhawk offensive line needs to dominate the line of scrimmage to spring their talented playmakers.

Harry Henschler A Gagliardi Trophy Semi-Finalist

Henschler banner.jpg

Senior defensive end Harry Henschler, who last week was named the WIAC Defensive Player of the Year has raked in yet another honor.  Henschler was named a semi-finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy, an award for the most outstanding football player in the nation for D-III football.  

Fans are able to participate in voting.  To vote for Harry, click here.

Hawks Steamroll Eureka, St. Norbert Up Next

Ponick.jpg 

         Leaning on a mauling offensive line that gave their first round opponent, Eureka, no chance,  the Warhawks gained as astounding 500 yards rushing in dismantling the Red Devils 67-14.  The Warhawks broke out to a 50-0 half time lead on the strength of a 35 point second quarter.  The drive that best exemplified the UW-W mindset and demonstrated their dominance began with 11:05 left in the second quarter and Whitewater taking the ball at their own 19 yard line.  The Hawks called six straight running plays straight up the middle. Every call was exactly the same. On each of the first four plays, the offensive line created incredible holes that Ponick burst through for gains of 16, 16, 18, and 30 yards.  That series of plays took the Hawks to the Red Devils one yard line. After being held for no gain on first down, the hard charging junior running back pushed across the goal line extending the Warhawk lead to 22-0 after the extra point.  Message sent. This was going to be a long day for Eureka.

         While the Hawks gave up 14 second half points, the outcome had long been decided thanks to the second quarter UW-W outburst.  The Warhawks threw just 15 times on the afternoon because, with their overpowering advantage at the line of scrimmage, they simply didn’t have to throw more.

         Ronny Ponick led the Hawks in rushing, gaining 202 yards in 12 carries with three touchdowns.  Alex Peete carried ten times for 116 yards and three touchdowns.  Ryan Wisniewski carried the ball twice for 83 yards and two touchdowns.  Preston Strasburg carried 10 times for 77 yards and his first career touchdown. 

         Cole Wilber completed seven of 12 passes for 132 yards. Jerimie Richards caught two passes for 78 yards and Mitchell Dess caught three balls for 37 yards.

         Defensively, linebacker Bryce Leszczynski led the Hawks in tackles with seven. Jacob Erbs recorded six tackles, including two tackles for loss.  Mackenzie Balanganayi had five tackles and a sack.

         The Warhawks host St. Norbert College in the 2nd round of the NCAA Playoffs on Saturday.  Kickoff is 12:00 noon local time.

Hawk Defense Measures Up

wfdc helmet.jpg

 There are a lot of ways to measure a UW-Whitewater defense.  You can look at statistics and national rankings. You can look at the measurables of their size and try to quantify their speed.  You can try to compare them to National Championship defenses of the past.  In 2018, regardless of method, this Warhawk defense measures up.  If defense wins championships, the Warhawks are in very good shape.

         Playing in the strongest conference in the country, the Warhawks rank second in scoring defense allowing just 7.1 points per game.  The Hawks also rank eighth in Total Defense allowing just 227.8 yards per game. Additionally, the Hawks allow opponents just 2.21 yards per rush.  Here is a look at the defensive position groups heading into the playoffs:

 Defensive Line

 Led by WIAC Defensive Player of the Year Harry Henschler, it all starts up front for the Warhawk defense.  Henschler has 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks from his defensive end position.  Aside from Henschler’s relentless pressure, the strength of this unit comes from it’s depth.  Talent and size run across the entire defensive line. Joining the 6’1” 250 pound defensive end as a starting D-end is 6’2” 250 pound Cal Durni.  Durni has five tackles for loss and three sacks. 

              Clogging up the middle for the Warhawk defense are defensive tackles Dalton Heckel and David O’Gorman.  Both are 6’2” 280 pound strongmen who tie up offensive linemen and allow the athletic Warhawk linebackers to flow to the ball and make plays. More often than not, runs into the middle of the Warhawk defense sees the running back hitting a stone wall and O’Gorman and Heckel are the primary reasons why.

              Justin Hansen, Vince Klim, DeAngelo Lux, Mackenzie Balanganayi, and Merritt Stott rotate into the game regularly.  They provide such quality of depth that there is not a drop off when starters get a breather. 

              The defensive line’s ability to create pressure on the quarterback and shut down the run will be crucial to the Warhawks’ post season hopes.  They have been relentless so far and there is no reason to believe they won’t create havoc in the playoffs.

 Linebackers

The Warhawk linebackers perfectly emulate the way Whitewater wants to play football:  fast and physical. Co-captain Bryce Leszcyzynski anchors the middle for the Hawks. He is a physical presence and the unquestioned leader of the defense.  Jacob Erbs, who leads the team in tackles, and Beau Martin join Leszczynski as a physical presence in the Hawks front seven.  Matt Anderson, Alex Zacharias, Caleb Kaminski, Derek Hoppe, and Graham Hevel provide incredible depth at the position. All are starting caliber backers giving the Hawks an embarrassment of riches at the position.

              This is a group that is fast, physical, and consistent.  The hope is that along with shutting down the opponent run game, they will continue to force more and more turnovers as the post-season rolls on.

 Defensive Backs

The Warhawk defensive backs prove every game that the front seven doesn’t have a    when it comes to being fast and physical.  Cornerbacks Famus Hasty are both excellent cover corners as well as fierce in shutting down the run  Hard hitting Safeties Baily Bruenig and Nate Tranel regularly make receivers pay for crossing the middle and provide a punishing final line of defense for the Warhawk defense. 

              While the Warhawks still probably haven’t played the best quarterback they will play this year, the defensive backs have met every challenge thrown at them this year including shutting down some excellent receivers.  They are a strength of this team and will be a big reason for any post-season success the Hawks attain this year.  

    Playoff Preview: Warhawk Offense

Ring banner2.jpg

Playoff time is here! The NCAA has extended bids to 32  D-III teams to participate in this year’s annual post season tournament.  The Warhawks received what is tantamount to a #1 seed and what is likely the third seed overall.  That means, as long as the Hawks keep winning, they will be playing at least three home playoff games at the friendly confines of Perkins Stadium. 

         Following is a look at each position group as the Hawks head into the playoffs:

 Quarterback-  Senior Quarterback Cole Wilber is playing the best football of his career. Wilber, named this week the WIAC Offensive Player of the Year, has completed 57.4% of his passes for 2102 yards and 22 touchdowns against seven interceptions.  Wilbur has been deadly accurate throwing the long ball and decisive both in terms of selecting targets and choosing when to run. Zach Oles and Brennan Demark are Wilber’s primary back ups.

 Ryan Wisniewski has operated out of the wildcat over the past several weeks. His athleticism is off the charts and he can gouge a defense quickly if they aren’t gap sound in defending the read option.

 Offensive Line- This might be the position group that has improved the most over the course of the season.  While they have never played badly, this is a new group of linemen that had not played together before this year.  With the entire line staying healthy and getting reps together all year, the unit has developed the cohesiveness that is so crucial to consistent offensive production.

 This line is physical and plays with an edge.  They are a group that sets the tone of physicality that is central to the identity of this offense and the entire team.  The starters include:

 Senior Center              Nate Trewyn  6’4”  315 pounds

Sophomore Guard      Quinn Meinerz  6’3”  300 pounds

Junior Guard               Bryan Behrendt   6’6”   330 pounds

Junior Tackle               Matt Saager        6’3”   290 pounds

Sophomore Tackle      Kyle Gannon      6’2”   290 pounds

 Running Backs-  With senior Jarrod Ware suffering an early season injury, the backfield workload has fallen on sophomore Alex Peete and junior Ronny Ponick.  As the year has worn on, the running game has improved both in terms of consistency and in making big plays. On the season, Peete has rushed for 906 yards at a 5.0 yard per carry clip and 16 touchdowns.  Ponick has added 370 yards and five touchdowns. Ponick also averages 5.0 yards per carry.  Sophomore Preston Strasburg has served as the primary back up to Peete and Ponick.  As the weather continues to turn colder, the continued progress of the running game is crucial to the Warhawks’ post season success. 

 Wide Receivers- The wide receiver group is deep and capable of quick strike big plays. Eleven different wide receivers have caught passes for the Hawks this year.  Sophomore Ryan Wisniewski leads the way with 34 catches for 685 yards and eight touchdowns. His longest reception is 90 yards.  Sophomore JT Parrish has caught 21 passes for 509 yards and six touchdowns. His longest reception is 82 yards.  Slot receiver Mitch Dess has caught 20 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns.  Jeremie Richards has caught 12 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown. His longest reception is 36 yards.  Nathanial Osterloo has caught nine passes for 124 yards and a touchdown.  His longest reception is 31 yards. 

 This group has the ability to break open a game.  It is very difficult for a secondary to account for all of the talented receivers on this team.  They will be counted on to help the Hawks get over the top when the competition gets stronger later in the post season.

 Tight Ends/H Backs-  While these guys are capable of making a clutch catch when necessary, the main function of the tight end is to set the edge in the running game.  The fullbacks are counted on to blow open holes in the interior running game.  Bryce Bellefeuille, Jared Zausch, Julio Perez, and Michael Berentes are important components to both the rushing attack as well as the passing game. 

 Saturday morning, we will take a look at the Hawks’ defense and special team units.

Hawks Finish Dominant Regular Season 10-0

Miners Axe retained.jpg

 

     The UW-Whitewater Warhawks scored touchdowns their first five possessions on Saturday on their way to defeating UW-Platteville 49-21.  With the win in the Annual George Chryst Memorial Bowl, the Warhawks retain the prized Miner’s Axe for another year.

         The victory sealed a perfect 10-0 regular season and a WIAC leading 36th conference championship.  When a team goes undefeated in conference play and wins every game by at least 20 points, they can be expected near the top in most statistical categories as well.  And that is the case for the 2018 Warhawks.  Below is the list of major team statistical categories with the Hawks rank in parenthesis. 

 Scoring Offense (First)

Rushing Offense (First)

Scoring Defense (First)

Rushing Defense (First)

Pass Offense (Fifth)

Total Offense (First)

Pass Defense (First)

Total Defense (First)

Kickoff Returns (First)

Punt Returns (Second)

Punting (Second)

Pass Efficiency (First)

Turnover Margin (Fourth)

Pass Defense Efficiency (First)

First Downs (Second)

Third Down Conversions (First)

Opponent First Downs (First)

Opponent Third Down Conversions (Fourth)

Sacks by (Third)

Sacks against (First)

Penalties (First)

Field Goals (First)

Opponent Penalties (Seventh)

PAT Kicking (Third)

Time of Possession (Fourth)

Opponent Fourth Down Conversion (First)

Kickoff Coverage (First)

Red Zone Offense (Second)

Red Zone Defense (Second)

 

 

 

        

Running Game Hitting High Gear

Peete.jpg(Picture courtesy of Anthony Wahl, Janesville Gazette)

 

As the temperatures drop and the wintry winds rise, one of the most essential elements of winning football is the ability to run the ball.  And if the last four weeks are any indication, the Warhawks’ running game is hitting high gear at just the right time.

         During the first four NCAA games of the season, UW-W averaged 141.75 yards rushing per game. Their long runs in the first four games were carries of 16, 16, 22, and 15 yards.  Whitewater had six rushing touchdowns their first four weeks.  But as the season has worn on, the young Warhawk offensive line has gained valuable experience playing together and has become a cohesive force in the ground game. 

         With the improving offensive line leading the way, the Hawks have developed a dominating rushing attack. Over the past four games, the Hawks have averaged 286 yards rushing per game.  The long runs in the past four games have gone for 37, 35, 81, and 27 yards.  The Warhawks have scored 12 rushing touchdowns over the past four weeks.  The Warhawks have gained 7.11 yards per carry over the past four weeks compared to 3.48 ypc over the first four games.

         Individually, Alex Peete leads the Hawks with 849 yards on 165 carries (5.1 ypc) and 14 touchdowns.  Ronny Ponick has gained 313 yards on 68 carries (4.6 ypc) and 4 touchdowns.  Ryan Wisniewski has gained 173 yards on 11 carries (15.7 ypc) and one touchdown.  Preston Strasburg has gained 165 yards on 21 carries (7.9 ypc), Zach Oles has gained 153 yards on 18 carries (8.5 ypc), and Cole Wilbur has gained 134 yards on 39 carries (3.4 ypc). Wilbur’s numbers are affected because college football statistics reduce a quarterback’s rushing yardage when he is sacked. 

         The improved running game will be invaluable as the temperature drops and winds increase in November and December.  In addition to protection against poor weather, a prolific rushing attack would continue to propel an offense that is run/pass balanced.  A balanced offensive attack is an important ingredient to success in the playoffs. Overall, the Hawks have averaged 237.9 yards passing per game and rushed for 226.8 yards per game. The Warhawks’ final regular season game is this Saturday at UW-Platteville where the Hawks take on the Pioneers in the annual George Chryst Memorial Bowl.

Explosive!

 Wiz.jpg

         More than a fair share of visitors have been startled by a canon blast on their first trip to Perkins Stadium.  The “Canon Guy”, who sounds a blast every time the Warhawks score, is a colorful part of the UW-W program.  But the canon is not the only explosive element of the UW-Whitewater football program these days.  Not by a long shot.  The UW-Whitewater offense, filled with playmakers, has produced big play after big play as the Warhawks have rolled to an 8-0 start to their 2018 football season. 

         If you define an explosive play as one that goes at least 15 yards, the Hawks have amassed 56 explosive plays in their seven NCAA games to date.  All season long, quarterback Cole Wilber has been triggering a big play passing game that has uncovered a plethora of talented playmakers on Whitewater’s offensive side of the ball.  No less than 13 Warhawks have caught passes of at least 15 yards. 

         Leading the way are sophomores Ryan Wisniewski (10 explosive plays) and JT Parish (8 explosive plays).  Perhaps most impressive is the relative youth of those making the big plays as 51 of the 56 big plays in the passing game have been turned in by players expected to return to the program next year and 24 of the 56 have been made by freshmen or sophomores. 

         By distance, 21 of the explosive pass plays have gone for 25 or more yards, 14 have triggered gains of 35 or more yards, eight have ripped off 48 or more yards, and four have covered 75 or more yards.

         Through the first four games, the passing game made the most noise with 21 explosive plays compared to just four in the running game.  However, the running game has been getting into the act recently with an impressive 17 runs of 15 yards or more over the past three games.  Again, one of the most impressive aspects of the Warhawk offense is the sheer volume of players capable of making a big play. Eight different players accounted for the 21 explosive plays in the ground game.  Only senior quarterback Cole Wilber, who has accounted for three of the long runs, will not be back next year and freshmen or sophomores have accounted for 15 of the 21 explosive running plays.

         Driven by the deluge of big plays, the Warhawk offense has kept the “Canon Guy” busy this season.  And given the youth of many of the playmakers, he may need to increase his gunpowder budget in the days ahead. 

36!

 

WIAC Championship number 36 is in the books for the Warhawk football team after they defeated UW-Stout 40-10 in Menomonie on Saturday.  Combined with losses by UW-Platteville and UW-Oshkosh, the Warhawks win clinched at least a tie for the championship along with an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs.

         For the second time in three games, the Hawks’ offense surpassed 500 yards and for the third straight game, the Hawks put up 40 points.  Once again, the Warhawks played solid defense.  They forced three Stout turnovers.  While they allowed a season high 328 total yards, 94 of those ya rds came in the final 6 ½ minutes with UW-W holding a 40-3 lead.  Stout became the first opponent to score in double figures when they completed a touchdown pass with 16 seconds left in the game and converted the extra points.

         In the win, the Warhawks continued their habit of making big plays on offense.  Fifteen of the Warhawks’ plays went for ten yards or more including Alex Peete broke multiple tackles on touchdown runs of 18, 20, and 56 yards.  Ryan Wisniewski outran the field from the wildcat on an 81 yard touchdown run. Zach Oles ran for 19 yards on a QB draw and Preston Strasburg trucked a linebacker on his 46 yard run up the middle.

         Through the air, seven receivers caught passes of 10 yards or longer. Cole Wilber connected with Kendall Gould (48 yard completion), Alex Peete (33), Mitchel Dess (18), Jeremie Richards (16), Josh Ringelberg (16), and Derek Kumerow (11).  Zach Oles also hit Jared Zausch for 20 yards.

         The Warhawks will try to continue to roll out the big plays when they host UW-Stevens Point at Perkins Stadium this coming Saturday.  Kickoff is set for 1:00

Victory Over Eau Claire Signals Progress

Eau Claire Win.jpg

     One of the simpler goals of the UW-Whitewater football team is to get better every single day.  That doesn’t sound flashy nor does it feel lofty.  But it is paramount for teams with conference championship and playoff aspirations to be playing their best ball at the end of the year.  Saturday was UW-Whitewater’s sixth game of a ten game schedule.  Offensively,  the Hawks had season highs in first downs (27), rushing yards (262), and total offense (501).  Quarterback Cole Wilber threw a season high four touchdown passes and running back Alex Peete cracked the 100 yard mark for third time this season, averaging a season high 7.1 yards per carry.

       As is normally the case, the rise in offensive numbers coincides with the improved play of the offensive line. Anchored by co-captain center Nate Trewyn, the offensive line is becoming more cohesive each week.  After losing several starters from last year’s line, this year’s group is physical and talented.  However, they came into the season young and inexperienced as well.  And while they have been solid throughout the year, they have aspirations of becoming dominant. Junior Bryan Behrendt and sophomore Quinn Meinerz flank Trewyn to form a formidable interior wall that averages 315 pounds per player.  The tackles, who both play at 290 pounds, are junior Matt Sager and sophomore Kyle Gannon.  As the offensive line continues to grow, the Hawks running game will become more dynamic and a powerful compliment to their dangerous aerial attack.

         Without a doubt, the UW-Eau Claire defense isn’t as strong as some of the Warhawks'  previous opponents.  But the Blugold defenders are clearly improved, especially in the defensive front seven. All in all, the Warhawk offense took a step forward in consistency and production on Saturday.

         At this point in the season, it’s almost impossible to even see a ceiling for this UW-W defense.  They pitched their second consecutive WIAC shutout on Saturday.  They have given up just seven points in three conference games and nineteen points in all games this year. The Warhawks, who have not given up  more than 205 yards in a game all season, allowed only 164 yards of total offense on Saturday. They play fast, physical, and disciplined.  They fly to the ball and it is rare to find any of them out of position.  The next weakness an offensive coordinator is able to expose will be the first.  The Hawks’ defense ranks first in the nation, allowing only 3.8 points per game.  The Warhawks also rank third in the nation in Total Defense, allowing only 183.4 yards per game.  These lofty rankings have been achieved in spite of playing a higher level of competition than the other national leaders. 

         With six weeks in the books, UW-W has put themselves in position to achieve all of their pre-season big picture goals. Their ability to achieve those goals will hinge largely on their ability to continue to accomplish one of their simplest. To get better every day.

Hawks Defense Meets Challenge (Again)

 Whitewater Beats Oshkosh.jpg

   One of the awesome things about football is that when you walk into a stadium, you never know when you may get to watch a memorable performance.  And that’s exactly the type of defensive performance the 11,628 fans at Perkins Stadium witnessed last Saturday afternoon.  The Warhawks shut out UW-Oshkosh 20-0, limiting the 10th ranked Titans to 205 total yards and just 2.8 yards per play.  One year after giving up 37 points in a 37-20 loss at Oshkosh in 2017, the Warhawks completely turned the tables on the Titans.  In seven first half drives, the Titans never broke into Warhawk territory.  On their eighth drive, the first of the second half, UW-O finally crossed the 50, but could go no deeper than the Warhawk 48 before punting. It wasn’t until they trailed 20-0 and on their 12th drive of the afternoon that Oshkosh penetrated deeply into Warhawk territory. But after getting all the way down to the Warhawk two yard line, the Titans made a series of miscues and penalties that ruined the drive.  UW-O ended up giving up the ball on downs all the way back to the Whitewater 26 yard line.

         Stopping the Titan running game was key to this dominant performance.  UW-O gained just 18 yards in 36 carries.  The Warhawk defense sacked the quarterback three times and had an outstanding 12 tackles for loss in stonewalling the Titans.        

         Saturday’s performance was just the latest of outstanding efforts by this defense since losing at Oshkosh that October 2017 Saturday that now seems long ago. UW-W has won their last 10 games, not including their contest against non-NCAA opponent Middle Georgia State. In those 10 games, Whitewater’s defense has yielded just 6.6 points per game.  They have allowed seven or fewer points in eight of the ten games.  They have never given up more than 16 points in the stretch.

         The Hawks’ D will look to continue their dominant stretch when they play at UW-Eau Claire this coming Saturday, October 13th.  Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 PM.

Hawks' Defense More than Ready To Do It

pound the rock banner.jpg 

           As the Warhawk defense dejectedly left the field in Oshkosh after their 2017 loss at UW-O, two words could describe their emotions.  Embarrassed and Disappointed.  Allowing 37 points, including two decisive fourth quarter touchdowns after the Hawks had pulled within three points in the fourth quarter, was not the performance this defense was looking for.  But the Hawks did what good teams and good defensive units do after a disappointing performance.  They learned from it and went to work on getting better.

         In the nine games since that October 2017 afternoon, the Warhawk defense has just continued to get better.  And better and better. In those nine games, all victories, the Hawks have yielded just 7.3 points per game.  The schedule included seven WIAC opponents, the University of Dubuque, and Concordia-Moorhead.  The Hawks gave up 7 points or less in seven of those nine games. 

         And that brings us all the way back to UW-Oshkosh, who UW-W will host this Saturday at Perkins Stadium.  This game represents an opportunity to both measure their improvement since last year’s debacle and to erase the painful memory of walking off the field in defeat.  You can be sure the entire UW-W team has been waiting for this day for nearly a year.  When asked about the identity of the 2018 defense in fall camp, Defensive Coordinator Rob Erickson spoke about the mission first.  “Our number one focus or mission is to not allow anyone to run the ball on us.  There is a sense of pride and toughness that goes along with that, that our guys embrace.  As far as traits, I think people will watch us and they will say we are pretty fast. I think we run to the ball really well because we anticipate and we understand what is expected. So our anticipation is there, but I truly believe we have some speed. We cover ground pretty well.  Our D-Ends are extremely athletic, our linebackers run really well, and our DB’s are a veteran group that runs well, too.  So you add in the fact that we are going to be tough and stop the run and you add some speed.  Our players on the defensive side set a really high bar for themselves and they are really hungry to reach it. It’s a really fun group to coach.  We have played a lot of ball together and we have been through a lot of things together.  Now you have to do it and not just talk about it.”

         There is no better or more important Saturday to do it than this Saturday against UW-Oshkosh.  The winner will be in control of their own destiny in their quest for a WIAC Championship.  Either UW-Whitewater or UW-Oshkosh has won the WIAC championship every year since 2005.  Whitewater has won 11 of those championships and Oshkosh has won three. But in the last six years, each school has won three WIAC crowns.  Kickoff is set for 2:00 PM.

Second Half Tempo Ignites Offense in Win Over LaCrosse

DoTLNcnWkAAJ-X8.jpg 

    The Warhawk offense started slowly in more ways than one in their 30-7 victory over UW-La Crosse on Saturday.  Slowly in terms of scoring with only three first half points.  But beyond that, the tempo with which they ran their offense was slower than one would expect when watching the Hawks play. Uncharacteristically, in many cases, the Warhawks didn’t snap the ball until less than 5 seconds remained on the play clock.

         At halftime, the coaches invoked a high tempo offense to employ in the second half.  The results were dramatic.  The Hawks put up 27 second half points and also gained 339 second half yards after gaining only 79 yards in the first half.  The fast tempo succeeded in increasing productivity as well as wearing out the Eagles’ defense.

La Crosse linebacker Elijah McGeehan was quoted in the La Crosse Tribune, saying, ““Hats off to them, that was a great adjustment on their side,” said senior linebacker Elijah McGeehan, who had 10 tackles. “That did create issues for us. Getting calls in fast, getting lined up, it created issues. Then on top of that the fatigue that built up in the half.”

         Warhawk quarterback Cole Wilber also appears more comfortable with the faster pace.  All three of his touchdown passes were in the second half. On the afternoon, Wilber completed 16 of 26 passes for 253 yards.     

         The Hawks next game is Saturday afternoon, when they host UW-Oshkosh in a game with a 2:00 PM scheduled kickoff. 

Prime Time: WIAC Season Has Arrived

UWW.jpg
 

     Preparation for this moment began with a team meeting in January.  Countless hours of work under the watchful eye of Strength and Conditioning Coach Ryan Bracius, 15 spring practices, a summer of sweat and sacrifice, a competitive fall camp, three non-conference games, and a bye week later, the WIAC Season has arrived for the 2018 Warhawk football team.

         “The leadership from the senior class has been outstanding,” Head Coach Kevin Bullis reflected.  Led by captains Nate Trewyn, Bryce Leszczynski, and Harry Henschler the leaders of this football team are determined to take back the WIAC Championship won by UW-Oshkosh last year.  When informed at the season opening press conference that the conference coaches and SID’s had picked Oshkosh to repeat as conference champions, Leszczynski was unfazed.  “The guys in this locker room know what we are capable of,” the senior linebacker resonded.

         After outscoring three non-conference opponents 135-12, UW-W is eager to begin pursuit of WIAC Championship number 36.  Buoyed by a lopsided 73-0 win over a young Middle Georgia State team, the Hawks have a decisive edge in most statistical categories over their non-conference opponents. Offensively, the Hawks have featured a balanced attack, averaging 234.7 yards passing and 205.3 yards rushing per game.  Defensively, the Hawks’ stingy defense has given up merely 66.3 yards rushing and 82.0 yards passing per game. UW-W’s offense has not gained less than 367 yards total offense in a game. Defensively, they have not allowed more than 204 yards in a game. 

         A key to the Hawks non-conference success was their penchant for getting off to fast starts.  UW-W scored first in every game so far this season and have outscored their opponents 101-6 in the first half. Whitewater never trailed in the non-conference portion of their schedule. 

         The Warhawks open their WIAC schedule with a trip to UW-LaCrosse this coming Saturday, September 29th.  The Eagles posted a 2-1 non-conference record and enter the contest ranked 23rd in the Nation by D3football.com.  Kickoff is set for 4:00 PM.  

Wide Receivers Eager to Make Impact

wfdc helmet.jpg 

         At some point, Marcus Hudson’s career at UW-Whitewater would come to an end and the Warhawks would have to find solutions that didn’t rely on the familiar number seven.  That time is now as the three-time First Team All-WIAC Wide Receiver has graduated, leaving a hungry group of receivers ready to gobble up targets from returning Honorable Mention All-Conference quarterback Cole Wilber.  While some of the names may not be familiar to Warhawk fans quite yet, they will be soon enough.  “The length and athleticism in that room is out of this world.  These guys are just hungry. They want to play. They want to prove what they can do “, according to first year offensive coordinator Peter Jennings.  

         Back from last year’s roster and expected to contribute from the slot is Mitchell Dess.  Dess, a 5’11” senior from South Milwaukee, played in all ten games last year and brings a positive energy and swagger to the room.  Also returning from last year is junior Josh Ringelberg.  Ringelberg has shuffled between receiver and running back at UW-W and the exceptional athlete is back to receiver this year after playing running back in 2017.  Ringelberg was also the Hawks’ primary kickoff and punt returner a year ago and is expected to contribute in those areas as well

         Also returning and expected to play a much larger role in 2018 is 6’3” junior Nathaniel Osterloo.  Osterloo has had an excellent camp. He has the ability to break past defenders to get deep as well as to go up over defenders in the red zone. Three other players who have had great camps and are in the mix include junior Andy Cooper, and sophomores JT Parrish and Ryan Wisniewski.  The 6’2” Cooper, transferred a year ago from Northern Michigan University and is rising through the ranks in his second year at UW-W.  Parrish, a 6’1” 200 pound sophomore brings physicality and strength to the receiving corps.  Wisniewski, a pure athlete with tremendous length and 6’4” frame, has been catching everything thrown his way in camp. Despite the fact that he moved to quarterback on an emergency basis last fall and he has limited experience, he is positioning to either start or be one of the first receivers to rotate into the game.   Returning from last year’s team to provide depth are Justin Prostinak, Jerimie Richards, and Anthony Juoni.  Prostinak is a speedster who operates from the slot. He is also a primary gunner for the punt coverage team and a return specialist.  Richards and Juoni are well respected and dependable seniors who are being counted on to produce when given the chance, but also to mentor the younger players as to the “Whitewater way” of approaching school and football.  Matt Aiken, who was on the 2016 team but didn’t play last year, won a spot on the roster with an impressive camp. The 6’1” Aiken is showing good hands and an ability to make plays.

         The wide receiver unit also got infused with talent through a couple of tall, athletic transfers.  Sophomore Derek Kumerow  a 6’3” playmaker transferred to UW-W from St. Cloud State, where as a freshman he caught 23 passes in seven games.  Freshman Kendall Gould, an explosive 6’2” athlete with a 38 inch vertical (according to Hudl.com) comes to UW-W after red-shirting at Northwest Missouri State last year.  

         The room is rounded out with some highly talented freshmen:

 Nick Doucette              6’4”           190            West Palm Beach, FL

Jakari Godfrey             5’10”         165            Kenosha Bradford HS

Tyler Holte                   5’11”         175            Elgin, IL

2018 Linebackers Look to Uphold A Tradition

seitz and les.jpg

 

     The Warhawk linebacker unit didn’t invent the phrase “fast and physical.”  But it sure describes their play.  Playing a position that is steeped in a history of excellence, the 2018 linebackers look to uphold a rich Whitewater tradition: dominant linebacking.  Their coaches certainly have the pedigree and the credibility to hold up a high bar of performance.  The assistant coaches who coach the defensive front seven are both part of the linebacker legacy at UW-W. Defensive Line Coach Ryan Cortez, who played at UW-W through 2013, is a three-time national champion and was a three time All-WIAC linebacker.  Run Defense Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Jace Rindahl led UW-W to four straight Stagg Bowl appearances from 2005 through 2008.  He was a First Team All-American and named the D3football.com National Defensive Player of the Year in 2018.  Rindahl was selected to the WIAC’s All-Time Team in 2013.  

         The Warhawks return an experienced group of linebackers that will be looking to set the tone for the defense in 2018. Co-captain Bryce Leszczynski, a 6’2” 230 pound senior out of Milwaukee Pius High School leads the charge.  Leszczynski, who was an All-WIAC First Team selection in 2017, will be counted on to make the defensive calls as well as to provide a physical presence in the middle of the Hawk defense.  “Bryce takes great pride in making the right call and making sure our guys are aligned properly.  He is so physical, just a really good football player”, according to UW-W Defensive Coordinator Rob Erickson.  Leszczynski led the Hawks in tackles last year with 90.  

         At the field side linebacker spot, Jacob Erbs returns after playing in nine games last year.  Erbs, a 5’10” 225 pound junior out of Reedsburg High School was second on the team in tackles last year with 68.  “Jacob Erbs is physical.  He is quick twitch explosive and can run. He can get after you” , Erickson said.  Beau Martin is starting as the boundary side linebacker.  Martin, 6’2” 220 pounds, hails from Wheaton North High School (IL).  “Beau is longer to the boundary, which gives us an extra element there”, according to Erickson.  

         Coach Erickson also mentioned four other linebackers who are having excellent camps.  Alex Zacharias, Matt Anderson, Graham Hevell, and Derek Hoppe.  “All seven of them are really playing well and will see the field for us. If not at linebacker, then on special teams.  They are athletic, physical players who make good decisions on the field. They should make an impact for us one way or another”.  

         Zacharias is a 6’1” 225 pound senior from Stoughton High School.  Anderson is a 6’1” 210 pound junior from Rockford Lutheran High School (IL).  Hevel, a 6’0” 225 pound junior, played high school ball at Sandburg High School in Orland Park, IL.  Hoppe is a 5’11” 220 pound junior out of Kettle Moraine High School. 

         The others talented linebackers who have been competing in camp this fall include:

 

Brad Krisch                     6’0”        225   jr                Joliet Catholic HS (IL)

Kaleb Kaminski               6’0”        205   so              Tomahawk HS

Ryan Liszka                    6’1”        195   so              Benet Academy HS (IL)

Anthony Romano            6’2”        215   so              Loyola Academy (IL)

Keegan Sobol                 5’10”      205   so              Morris Community HS (IL)

Jerome Suderland           6’0”       215   so              Muskego HS

Aleandro Medina             6’0”       205   so              Mater Academy Charter (FL)

Daniel Baggett                 6’0”       230   fr                Dekalb HS (IL)

John Doleschy                  6’1”      210   fr                Arrowhead HS

Jarryn Ehrke-Simpson      5’11”    215   fr                Hillcrest HS (SC)

Ben Handel-Kutz              6’2”      205   fr                Madison East HS

Tervell Jackson                6’2”      205   fr                Racine Case HS

Jack Kropke                     6’2”      218   fr                Minooka HS (IL)

Aaron Sturdevant             6’0”     205   fr                Burlington HS              

 (Fifth in a series of position by position previews of the 2018 UW-Whitewater football team)

         

D-Line Ready to Grind

pound the rock banner.jpg

          If there is one attribute that runs through the Warhawk 2018 defensive line, it could best be described as work ethic.  Playing a position that captures the essence of the concept, this defensive front takes seriously it’s mandate to work.  “They are a solid, hard working group”, says Defensive Coordinator Rob Erickson. “Every day, they come with a lunch pail mentality to work. They are led by David O’Gorman and Harry Henschler who bring that mentality every day to the practice field, in the meetings, and in the locker room.  And the other guys follow suit.” 

       Henschler, a co-captain and preseason All-American, leads the way on the field as well.  At 5’11” and 230 pounds, the senior from Janesville Craig High School had 14 sacks from his defensive end position. He plays with rare burst and speed and will likely demand a weekly double team to keep him from completely wrecking an offensive game plan.  That attention should open up one on one opportunities for the rest of the talented defensive line.        

         Henschler has plenty of help at the defensive end position.  Cal Durni, Jordan Brand, and Justin Hansen all had substantial playing time last year and will be counted on to hold firm and create pressure on the edge. The three combined for 47 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and seven sacks last year. 

         O’Gorman worked relentlessly in the offseason and has been a stout presence in the middle of the defensive line.  “David has put on good weight and has really done a great job in the middle of the defensive line",  Erickson pointed out.  Joining O’Gorman in the defensive tackle position are Dalton Heckel and Vince Klim.  Much of the defensive tackle position is about tying up linemen and interfering with the offensive line’s blocking patterns.  So statistics often don’t tell the story with a DT’s performance.  Nonetheless, O’Gorman and Heckel did more than their share of creating havoc from the inside last year as they combined for 57 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks.  Klim, who didn’t play last year as he recovered from an injury will help O’Gorman and Heckel hold the fort in the middle of the Warhawk defense.  

         Another player back after missing last year due to injury and adding strength along the defensive line is Merritt Stott.  Stott is a swing player who provides quality at both defensive end and defensive tackle.  Stott is a unique athlete who can cause problems both inside and outside.  “Merritt is playing really well.  He has put some weight on and along with being an extremely athletic tackle, he can man up over the tight end", Erickson noted.   

         There are a whole host of players competing in camp and looking to add depth to the defensive line group.  Here are the other players in camp:

 

Kyire Crape                          6’1”   225   JR     3Wauwatosa East HS

Ben Keeser                          6’2”   230   JR     Fort Atkinson HS

D’Angelo Lux                        6’2”   250   JR     Westosha Central HS

Mackenzie Balanganayi       6’2”   215   SO    Palatine (IL) HS

Dan Bertok                           5’11”  245  SO    Oswego HS (IL)

Jermaine Copeland              6’1”   227   SO    Wauwatosa East HS

Omar Mendez                      6’2”   270   SO    Loyola Academy (IL)

Gabe Rasmussen                 6’2”   225   SO    Waukesha South HS

McKinley Beautow                6’3”   215   FR   St. Mary’s Springs Academy

Adam Braley                         6’0”   215   FR    Union Grove, WI

Christian Cestone                 6’1”   245   FR    Lake Park HS (IL)

Jack Finerty                          6’4”   235   FR    Marquette University HS

Kyle Gallagher                      6’3”   215   FR    Notre Dame College Prep (IL)

Ryver Griffen                         6’4”   200   FR    Geneseo HS (IL)

Roy Panthier                         6’3”   210   FR    Elgin HS (IL)

(Fourth in a series of position by position previews of the 2018 UW-Whitewater football team)

                           

Running Backs Aim to Turn Potential Into Production

 wfdc helmet.jpg

 

Deep. Talented. Focused.  Unselfish.  The UW-Whitewater coaches use all four adjectives in describing the 2018 running back group.  “Coach Givens (Running Backs Coach, Ryan Givens) has those guys so coached up, they don’t care who gets the carries or who hits the home run, they just want to learn and be successful”, says first year Offensive Coordinator Peter Jennings.  Gone from the running backs room are the 2,144 yards and 24 touchdowns produced over the past two years by Drew Patterson.  What has replaced that production?  For now, a huge dose of opportunity.  “We have a burner, a banger, and some guys who can do a little bit of everything.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a running back room with this much talent”, Jennings said with a smile.    

         As of now, the starting running back is Alex Peete, a 5’8” 190 pound sophomore who was recruited by a number of higher division schools coming out of high school and turned down an offer from Winona State to come to Whitewater.  Peete, who showed rare explosiveness in limited opportunities last year, is capable of breaking off a big play from any point on the field.  Returning to running back after a year playing in the slot is play-maker Jarrod Ware.  Ware, a 5’10” 195 pound senior with exceptional speed and quickness, gained 419 yards at a 5.0 yard per carry clip in six games as a sophomore in 2016.  Also returning is Ronny Ponick, a 5’9” 200 pound senior.  Ponick, who brings an extremely physical running style and exceptional leadership to the running back room, averaged 6.9  yards per carry in his 38 carries last year. 

         An intriguing addition to the running backs corps in 2018 is Nyrel Sullivan, a 5’10” 175 pound transfer from Missouri Western State University.  Sullivan has been timed at 4.39 in the 40 yard dash according to Hudl.com

         Sophomore Preston Strasburg has caught the attention of the coaches in fall camp.  Head Coach Kevin Bullis said, “Preston is having a great camp.  We knew he was good.  I don’t think we knew he was THIS good”.  Strasburg, a 6’0 200 pound sophomore out of Fort Atkinson once rushed for 409 yards in a game in High school.

         Michael Feeney 5’11” 205 pound sophomore from Morris, IL, returns to add depth to the backfield, as does Ryan Zuern, a 6’0” 195 pound sophomore from Harford High School.  Both backs were highly successful in high school and benefit from being in the program last year.  Ryan Ponick, a 5’10” 195 pound sophomore transfer from UW-Eau Claire also adds to the quality of the room. 

         Three freshmen are also competing in camp. Jaylon Edmonson,  5’11” 190 pounds, hails from Racine Case High School.  Cody Krause,  6’0” 201 pounds, comes to UW-W from Muskego High School.  Andrew Mallman is a 5’10” 190 pounder from Whitnall High School. 

         Without a doubt, this group is deep and talented.  But it is the focus and unselfishness that most impresses Coach Jennings about this group.  “When you have everyone focused on doing their job, pulling for each other unselfishly,  it is hard for that group to NOT be successful”, he said.  And, if all goes as planned, the fruit of that success will be each player executing their role to the best of their ability.   And if that happens, the entire group will be successful in their mission of turning their vast potential into production on football Saturdays.

(Third in a series of position by position previews of the 2018 UW-Whitewater football team)

 

Revamped O-Line Ready to Rumble

pound the rock banner.jpg

 

Heading into fall camp, one of the biggest question marks on the Warhawk football team was the offensive line.  Returning only one starter, the Hawks have the task of finding the pieces and then turning them into a cohesive unit that functions together with precision. Given the loss of two starting tackles and two starting guards, it would be easy to expect that the Hawks’ offensive line to take a step back this year. Judging from the level of focus, effort, and execution from the group through the first twelve days of camp, the 2018 O-Line doesn’t have designs on being as good as the 2017 group.  They aim to be better.

 When asked about the positives of camp, the first group Head Coach Kevin Bullis mentioned was the offensive line.  “I feel really good about the physicality of that group.  Now, we are always looking to get better every day. We are not where we need to be ultimately.  But are we where we need to be as far as in camp?  Fantastic”,  Bullis said.  While all the spots are not set in stone, a few players have stepped up and earned front-runner status as far as being potential starters. Matthew Saager appears to have locked down the starting left tackle position.  The 6’3” 275 pound junior from Lodi has been one of the most consistent players in camp regardless of position.  He is a different player than Jordan Mueller, last year’s starting left tackle.  Mueller was 6’5” and weighed 310 pounds. “What Matthew lacks in size, he has to make up for in technique and intelligence.  He does that. He makes excellent decisions, he puts himself in the right position, and he executes” says Bullis. 

 If Saager brings a nuanced savvy to the left side of the Warhawk line, Quinn Meinerz, who has grabbed ahold of the left guard position brings an edge and aggressiveness that is contagious up front. Meinerz, a 6’3” 290 pound sophomore out of Hartford brings a physical presence that is becoming central to the UW-W identity in 2018.  “Quinn played a lot of football for us last year as a freshman” Bullis points out. At right guard, 6’6” 335 Bryan Behrendt, another player who likes to mash people, is leading the way. Behrendt, a junior out of Westchester, IL, is part of a huge, physical interior to the UW-W offensive line.  Along with being a physical force, Behrendt is extremely athletic for his size.  His brother Matt played QB for UW-W and led the Hawks to National Championships in 2013 and 2014. 

 Lining up in between the two physical guards, is 6’4” 310 pound center Nate Trewyn. The senior from Milton High School was voted a team captain this spring. “He is just a great football player” says Coach Bullis.  The Whitewater coaching staff considers Trewyn the best center in the country. Together with Meinerz and Behrendt, Trewyn helps form a physical inside presence on an offensive line that will seek to dominate opponents this year. 

 There is ongoing competition at the right tackle position.  The three players that seem to be near the top of the list are Cameron Shaw Lonnie Chambers, and Kyle Gannon. Shaw is a 6’4” 295 pound sophomore out of Lake Villa, IL.  Chambers is a 6’1” 250 pound sophomore out of Chicago, IL.  Gannon is a 6’1” 295 pound sophomore out of Waukesha, WI. 

  There is a lot of young talent behind the starters in camp this year. Here is a list of others competing in fall camp:

Auggie Hengel             6’4” 295  JR      Columbia, IL

Ryan Berg                    6’0”  280   SO    DePere, WI

Ethan Kee                    6’0”   230   SO    Plano, IL

Doug Kosch                6’1”  305   SO    Bridgeview, IL

Connor Sullivan          6’4”   295   SO   Chicago, IL

Joe Gatz                      6’4”   305  FR    Lake in the Hills, IL

Brandon Ausprung      6’2”   250  FR    Delafield, WI

Nick Boehm                 6’3”   300  FR    Evergreen Park,IL

Brendan Cavanaugh   6’3”   265  FR    Burbank, IL

Nolan Goff                   6’2”   290   FR    Morris, IL

Shelby Jones              6’4”   265   FR    Dodgeville, WI

Seth Roberts               6’5”   250   FR    Johnson Creek, WI

Zach Schaeve             6’3”   270   FR    Germantown, WI

Christian Sheedy        6’4”  285   FR    Waukesha, WI 

 (Second in a series of position by position reports on the 2018 UW-Whitewater football team)

 

 

Wilber Leads Talented QB Room into 2018

Cole-Wilber.jpgPhoto courtesy of mywalworthcounty.com

“Hundred percent!”. There was no hesitation in Cole Wilber’s voice when he answered the question during the UW-Whitewater football team’s media day.  The senior quarterback was asked whether he believed the Hawks are ready to live up to the high expectations that come with every UW-W football season.  While Wilber will be one of the keys to the 2018 campaign, he knows he has plenty of help around him.  “We have one of the best defenses in the country”, he quickly added. Still, Wilber and first year offensive coordinator Peter Jennings will be counted on to put the potency back into the Warhawk offensive attack.  The Warhawks’ 23 point per game average last year was the lowest for a UW-W team since 2002.  

            While there are certainly other pieces to the puzzle, there is no question that it all starts with the senior quarterback. After splitting the QB job as a sophomore, Wilber started all but one game in 2017.  The sense in fall camp is that Coach Jennings’ offense and Wilber’s experience will be the jumpstart the talented Warhawk offense needs to get back to being a high scoring machine.   

            There is no shortage of young talent behind Wilber in the quarterback room.  For the time being, it appears that the leading contenders for the back-up QB job includes Zach Oles, a 6’0” 190 pound sophomore out of Palatine, IL.  Oles transferred to UW-W from D-I (FCS) Butler University.  Another strong candidate for the QB2 position is Brennan Demark, a 6’2” 203 pound freshman (eligibility-wise) from Waukesha North High School.  While both quarterbacks have had a good camp so far, Demark is benefitting from having gone through spring ball.

            Four other talented quarterbacks are also in camp. Dillen Rondorf, a 6’3” 195 pound transfer from Wisconsin-Stevens Point hails from West Bend East High School. Rondorf was not on the Pointers’ roster last year and will be a freshman in terms of eligibility.  Jake Eskoff is a 6’1” 195 pound freshman from Naperville, IL, Dylan Mlinarich, a 6’2” 195 pound freshman from Elgin, IL, and Tyler Evans, a 6’4” 195 pound freshman from Slinger, WI are also competing in camp for the Hawks.

(First in a series of position by position reports on the 2018 UW-Whitewater football team)

 

Don't Miss out on the Action!

3 NELLIS COVER.jpg

Join the UW-W QB Club Today!