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Warhawks Advance With 41-28 Victory over Wartburg

Throughout the post-season, Coach Kevin Bullis has been emphasizing the importance of the Warhawks getting off to a fast start. They certainly did that in Saturday's second round game against Wartburg College.  

Wartburg received the opening kickoff, but on their fourth play from scrimmage, cornerback Garrett Purdy intercepted Wartburg quarterback Noah Dodd and the Hawks took over on the Knights 43 yard line.  The Warhawk offense capitalized, driving the 43 yards over eight plays, capped by a one yard Alex Peete scoring run and the Warhawks led 7-0 less than six minutes into the game. 

On the very next pay from scrimmage, linebacker Caleb Kaminski ripped the ball out of the arm of running back Bennett Goettsch and defense back Tommy Matoska recovered at the Wartburg 31. Just four plays later, UW-W held a two touchdown lead when quarterback Max Meylor dumped off a screen pass to Ronny Ponick resulting in a 12 yard touchdown.  

On the Wartburg third offensive possession, the Hawks forced a three and out when all three of Dodd's passes fell incomplete. Freshman Egon Hein partially blocked the Knights punt limiting its travel to 21 yards.  Once again the Hawks were playing on a short field, taking over on the Wartburg 39.  This time, Wartburg kept UW-W out of the end zone, but a 36 yard field goal by Wojciech Gasienica extended the Warhawk lead to 17-0. 

Early in the second quarter, Wartburg struck back on a 25 yard touchdown pass from Noah Dodd to Brandon Childs. However, Ryan Wisniewski returned the ensuing kickoff 46 yards to the Wartburg 40 and once again the Warhawk offense was set up with a short field. Once again, the offense took advantage, needing just four plays to increase the lead to 24-7.  Max Meylor capped off the drive with a four yard touchdown run.  

Once again the defense forced a three and out. Justin Prostinek fielded the subsequent punt and returned it to the house from 67 yards out and the Warhawks held an insurmountable 31-7 lead. 

Wartburg was able to put some points on the board and get a bunch of passing yards in the second half, but it came at a price. Dodd threw three more interceptions and the Knights were never able to get closer than the 41-28 final score. 

The Warhawks advance to the national quarterfinals and will travel to Belton, TX to face Mary Hardin-Baylor at noon on Saturday.

 

 

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First Round Notables:

 UW-W outgained the Scots 478-172

 The Warhawks had 28 first downs to six for Monmouth.

 UW-W had four consecutive touchdown drives in the first half, staking the Hawks to a 28-0 halftime lead.

 In his first start of the season, QB Max Meylor completed 16 of 26 passes for 183 yards and four touchdowns.

 The Warhawks out-rushed the Scots 278-0.

 Jarod Ware gained 112 yards on 20 carries and Alex Peetecarried the ball 16 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. Peete now has 12 rushing touchdowns in 11 games.

The Scots blocked two Warhawk punts in the second half.

Linebacker Matt Anderson led the Warhawk defense with seven tackles and ½ of a sack. Jordan Brand added four tackles and 2 sacks.

Ryan Wisniewski led the Warhawks with six receptions for 67 yards and two touchdowns.  Derek Kumerow pitched in four recepetions for 42 yards and a touchdown.

 Wojciech Gasienica made all five of his point after touchdown attempts. On the season Gasienica is now 42-42 in PAT attempts.

TODAY’S OPPONENT

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Monmouth College Fighting Scots

 How the Scots made the playoffs:  The Scots defeated St. Norbert 10-7 in the Midwest Conference Championship game to earn the conference’s automatic qualifier.

 Scots Statistics

 Average Points Scored:         20.2

Average Points Allowed:        16.6

Rushing attempts                  64.8% of offensive plays

Passing attempts                   35.2% of offensive plays

Rushing production                       57.2% of yardage came on ground

Passing production                42.8% of yardage came in the air.

Rushing yards per carry          4.0 ypc

Rush yds allowed per carry      2.8 ypc

Rushing yards per game         163.1 ypg

Rush yds allowed per game     108.3 ypg

Rushing TD’s                        15

Rushing TD’s allowed             10

Pass yds per attempt             5.5 ypa

Pass yds allowed per attempt   6.1 ypa

Completion percentage             53.5%

Completion percent. allowed     54.5%

Passing yards per game            121.9 ypg

Pass yds allowed per game       179.9 ypg

Passing TD’s                            5

Passing TD’s  Allowed                7                          

 

 

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Warhawks to Host Monmouth on Saturday

On Sunday afternoon, the NCAA D-III Selection Committee made UW-Whitewater one of their Pool C at-large selections to participate in the NCAA D-III Playoffs. The Warhawks (9-1), the co-champions of the WIAC will host Monmouth, the champion of the Midwest Conference. Kickoff is slated for  Saturday at noon. 

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UW-Stout at UW-Whitewater

Keys to Victory

  1. 1.        Bring A Game: Stout is a team that can’t be slept on.  In spite of a record of 3-5 (2-3), they have been competitive in games against very good teams. They lost to St. John’s by 7, Oshkosh by 3, and Platteville by 6. They can clearly play with good teams and as with every team playing UW-W, they will be playing their Super Bowl on Saturday. UW-W must once again bring their best effort.

 

  1. 2.           Stay balanced- It would be tempting to sling the ball   all over the field because Stout is excellent against   the   run and suspect against the pass this year.   The Warhawk passing game should hurt them, but       there’s no need to come out of the UW-W identity        which involved running the ball 63% of the time.

 

  1. 3.           Contain and Bust- Stout runs and passes about 50/50, but gain over 70% of their yards through the air. That’s quite a disparity. They have had trouble running the ball, but they tend to stick with it. Their longest run of the season is 21 yards, but they have three receivers who have receptions over 45 yards. With an excellent run defense, it appears the Hawks’’ strategy will be to keep the play in front of them and pound the receivers making them pay for short gains, all the while looking to separate the receiver from the ball. Putting too many balls in the air against UW-W will often result in the QB getting hit and/or balls getting picked off. While some look at the defense as bend but don’t break, that doesn’t account for the physicality the secondary and linebackers inflict on the receivers. I prefer “Contain and Bust”.

 

  1. 4.   Take Care of the Football- The Hawks come into the game with 12 turnovers.  That is a higher figure than the coaching staff would like. Zero would be good.  Putting together a couple of games with no turnovers to end the WIAC season would be a very good thing.

 

  1. 5.   Nail a Couple of Field Goals- OK, so it may not be a key to victory, but it would sure be nice. The field goal “system” just hasn’t come together for the Hawks this year.  That is not on one guy. The three specialists, snapper, holder, and kicker are the same guys that nailed 16 of 22 a year ago. And there are eight other guys out there as well. Holder Andy Cooper has been downright spectacular, if that can be said of a field goal holder.  Smoothing out this process could be a big bonus toward a successful end to the season.  

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 Game Notes:

 First Half Mirrors

 Both defenses played extremely well in the first half. The offensive production mirrored each other significantly:

 FIRST DRIVES

Both teams opened with drives of 13 plays for 51 yards. UW-L made their field goal attempt, UW-W missed theirs.

 SECOND DRIVES

UW-L went three and out, gaining only four yards.

UW-W threw an interception on the fifth play of the drive.

 THIRD DRIVES

UW-L went three and out, losing two yards in the process.

UW-W was pinned back on their one after a UW-L punt. They did enough to get the ball out of the shadow of the end zone, gaining 26 yards on five plays and punting to the La-Crosse 40

 FOURTH DRIVES

UW-L gained 30 yards on 10 plays but stalled on downs at the UW-W 30.

UW-W 40 yards on six plays but stalled on downs at the UW-L 30.

 FIFTH DRIVES

UW-L Gained 23 yards in seven plays before punting with 15 seconds remaining in the half.

UW-W Ran out the clock

 

Key Plays of the Second Half

 After both teams continued the stalemate at the beginning of the third quarter (UW-W ran the ball five times for 23 yards before punting. UW-L then ran the ball six out of eight plays moving the ball from the UW-L 39 to the Warhawk 28), QB Evan Lewandowski hit receiver Cole Spieker with a 28 yard TD pass along the right sideline of the end zone to propel the Eagles to a 10-0 lead.

 Facing the largest deficit of the season, the Hawks responded, driving 85 yards in six plays. Key plays included completions of 15 and 33 yards from QB Zach Oles to Ryan Wisniewski, a 37 yard run by Alex Peete, and two yard TD run by Peete. The Hawks were back within three.

 The Warhawk defense came up big on the next La Crosse possession.

With the Eagles facing a 4th and one on the Hawks 45 yard line, they chose to go for it rather than pin UW-W back as they did in the first half.  Not a great decision.  Attempting a quick bubble screen left, the play was blown up by freshman Niko Lemke who blew in so fast that he destroyed the play. Lewandowski opted not to throw, and falling to the ground from Lemke’s tackle, attempted to dump the ball off to his running back. By then the Hawks were swarming and he had no chance and was taken down for an 11 yard loss.

 The Hawks immediately cashed in covering 44 yards in five plays for the touchdown.  Key plays included a 24 yard completion from Oles to Derek Kumerow and a 10 TD toss from Oles to Tyler Holte. UW-W led 14-10.

 The Eagles weren’t done yet. The first play of the next drive Lewandowski hit Spieker for 36. Then, with the Eagles facing a 3rd and 12 on the Whitewater 30, the two connected again for a key 17 yard first down. Eventually facing a fourth and one from the UW-W four, the two connected yet again for a four yard TD and the Eagles went back on top 17-14.

 But as UW-W did facing the 10 point deficit earlier, the Hawks struck back quickly and they struck back hard. It took the Hawks just three plays to cover 75 yards. First Oles hit Wisniewski down the middle for 57 yards. The Eagles blitzed on the play but running back Jarrod Ware stepped right up into the hole and the backer didn’t get hear Oles. With the clean pocket, Oles hit Wisniewski easily. Ware then took over from there, covering the final 18 yards on runs of 8 and a TD run of ten. The Hawks retook the lead 21-17.

 But one more big play would be needed. The Eagles drove 53 yards to the Hawks 18 yard line. Facing a second down and 10, Lewandowski attempted to hit Jake Simuncak on the hashes at the six yard line.  Mark McGrath stepped in front of Simuncak and intercepted his fourth pass of the year to end the threat.  There would be no more from the Eagles on this afternoon.

 The Hawks have now beaten La Crosse seventeen straight times.

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Oles Ties School Record With Six TD Passes

Quarterback Zach Oles tied a school record with six touchdown passes in the Warhawks' 42-28 victory at UW-River Falls on Saturday.  Oles completed 13 passes in 22 attempts for 226 yards.  Nine different Warhawks caught passes on Saturday. Tyler Holte (1), Derek Kumerow (2), Jaylon Edmonson (1), Sam Delany (1), and JT Parish (1) all caught touchdown passes Saturday.  

Peete Hits Century Mark Again

For the third time in the past four weeks, Alex Peete topped 100 rushing yards on Saturday. Peete gained 107 yards on 13 carries, including a 59 yard TD run.  In all, the Hawks gained 199 yards on 32 carries on the ground.

Feeding the Linebackers

 Linebacker Kaleb Kaminski led the Hawks in tackles on Saturday with 15. Another linebacker, Matt Anderson was next with 12 tackles. On the season,   Kaminski leads the way with 60 tackles.  Anderson is fourth with 46 tackles.

Return Punch

The Hawks got consistent field position as a result of some solid KO returns.  Ryan Wisniewski returned two kickoffs for 76 yards, Derek Kumerow returned one for 40 and Justin Prostinak returned one for 25 yards. And the kickoff returns were only part of the field position story. In all, the Warhawks started seven drives beyond their 40 yard line.

 

Dare Ya’ to Run

Once again, the Hawks were very stingy in defending the run, limiting the Falcon to 84 yards in 41 carries. The Hawks have given up an average of just 2.1 yards per carry on 201 rushing attempts.

 

UW-W at UW-River Falls: 5 Things to Watch

 1. Alex

 Look for Alex to be targeted for a bunch of passes Saturday at Ramer Field. The Falcons’ top three receivers are all named Alex. Alex Hrink, a 6’7” 250 pound senior represents a unique threat and match up problem. The former basketball star had 17 receptions last Saturday against UW-La Crosse. Alex Traxler, a 5’11” 180 pound sophomore from Platteville, has caught 29 passes for 422 yards and five touchdowns. Alex Wickliff, a 5’8” 185 pound freshman from Willmar, MN has caught 26 passes for 301 yards.

 2. Balance

 After UW-La Crosse exploded for nine TD passes and 591 yards through the air last week, it might be tempting for the Hawks to go the same route this week.   However, the Hawks have always sought balance and they will again Saturday.  The offensive line has come together well the last two weeks in opening up running lanes and they will seek to do the same against the Falcons.

 3. Bend but Don’t Break

 The Falcons exploded for 49 points and 611 yards against La Crosse last week, including 493 yards passing. The Hawks will combat this passing attack the same way they always confront aerial shows. They will attempt to get hits on the quarterback to disrupt his rhythm while attempting to keep the receivers in front of them. Limiting the big plays will be crucial against an offense that will be coming in with plenty of confidence.

4. Be Special

 The Hawks special teams have been difference makers, especially in terms of blocking punts. A great sign of progress for the Hawks would be another consistent performance in the kicking game along with a big play or two by at least one of the aspects of special teams.

 5. Complete Game

 Due to weather and other factors, the Hawks are still looking for a complete game from their offense.  They showed great signs last week putting together three long scoring drives against Stevens Point. Saturday, the Hawks will aim to put together a complete game featuring a productive running game, a dynamic passing attack, and, perhaps most importantly, no turnovers.

Run Game Asserts Itself

 

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     It was a step forward for the offensive line and the running game.  The offensive line was physical and played in synch. The running backs hit the holes decisively and ran physically themselves. By game’s end, the Hawks had amassed 376 rushing yards on 65 carries in defeating UW-Platteville 21-14 before 12,402 fans on a windy day last Saturday in Perkins Stadium.  The Warhawks improved to 5-0 on the season and 2-0 in the WIAC with the victory.

       There is no doubt that as the Wisconsin air becomes colder and the weather becomes less predictable, the running game will be a huge part of the Hawks’ success moving forward.  Armed with an offensive line being increasingly comfortable with each other, three excellent running backs, and a quarterback who can run, the Hawks are well positioned to be able to launch a strong and diversified rushing attack during the back half of their 2019 schedule.

       Alex Peete is UW-W’s leading rusher with 288 yards and five touchowns.  Jarod Ware has added 265 yards and three touchdowns, and Ronny Ponick has rushed for 244 yards and three touchdowns.  Quarterback Zach Oles has gained 189 yards and scored one touchdown.  Overall, the Hawks have gained 49.6% of their yardage on the ground so far this season.  That number could well increase, depending on the November and December Wisconsin weather.

       A strong running game serves to wear out the defense as well as create additional opportunities in the passing game.  One goal of the running game is to force Warhawk opponents to bring an extra man in the box, which leaves more one on one coverage in the secondary. A pounding, physical running game also serves to wear down an opponent over the course of four quarters.  Vintage UW-W offense involves taking over the line of scrimmage by the fourth quarter and capitalizing with either a long scoring drive or a lengthy drive that drains the remaining clock.

       Strength in running the football and all the things that go with it have long been a staple to UW-W success. While each year the offensive goal is a healthy run/pass balance, much of that balance has been triggered through a power run game.  The Warhawk run game seems to have taken a major stride toward positioning themselves to accomplish all of those goals. The next test will come next Saturday afternoon, when the Hawks travel to Stevens Point to face the UW-Stevens Point Pointers. Kickoff is set for 1:00 PM CDT. 

GAME DAY: UW-PLATTEVILLE

GAME TIME: 2:00 PM

LOCATION: PERKINS STADIUM

Two nationally ranked teams collide when the Pioneers invade Perkins Stadium this afternoon. UW-Platteville (4-0) is ranked 19th in the most recent D3football.com poll and the Warhawks are ranked 3rd. Both teams won their WIAC openers last weeks as the Pioneers defeated UW-LaCrosse 38-20 and UW-W defeated UW-Eau Claire 24-14.

PLATTEVILLE OFFENSIVE MINDED

UW-P averages 43 points and 415 yards per game. The Pioneers gain nearly three quarters of their yards through the air. Quarterback Colin Schuetz has completed 60.7% of his passes for 1175 yards, 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Schuetz's leading receiver is Tyler Knigge, who has caught 24 passes for 358 yards and five touchdowns.  Donald Allender is a big play threat for UW-P as he has averaged 24.1 yards per catch and scored five touchdowns on his 14 receptions. The ground attack is led by Wyatt Thompson, who averages 72.8 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry. Freshman Mitchell McNutt contributes 43.0 yards per game at a 5.2 yards per carry clip. Thompson has scored five rushing touchdowns.

BALL HAWKING DEFENSE

The Pioneers have averaged four takeaways per game with ten interceptions and six fumble recoveries, propelling UW-P to a plus eight turnover advantage on the year. UW-P employs a 3-3 stack defense and the defensive line will move all over the line of scrimmage. The challenge for the UW-W offensive line will be finding who to block on any given play. The Pioneers yield an average of 22 points and 363.8 yards per game. UW-P yields 256.0 yards through the air and 107.8 on the ground per game.

KEYS

 Win the Turnover Battle

Platteville has benefited greatly from their takeaways and their enormous turnover ratio advantage. They give up lots of yards and points. UW-W should find great success if they can take care of the ball. If the Warhawk defense can force a couple of takeaways along the way, the game should tip in Whitewater's favor significantly.

Limit Big Plays

The key to playing Platteville is to keep everything in front of you defensively. Their rhythm passing attack will create yards. It's almost impossible to stop them from gaining yards. The key is to make them take 10 to 12 plays to move down the field. That will increase the odds significantly that a holding penalty, a ball off the shoulder pad, or an errant throw will spoil the drive.

Finish Offensively

Platteville is a team that UW-W ought to be able to move the ball against very well. The key will be converting those drives into touchdowns. There are points to be had. Executing in the red zone and making some big plays could lead to a big offensive day for the Warhawks. 

 

Next Opponent: Eau Claire Blugolds

Record:  2-1

 Last Game: Beat the sixth ranked University of St. Thomas 21-19 at Carson Park in Eau Claire last Saturday.

How it happened:

 Turnovers

Eau Claire became a poster child for turnover ratio last Saturday.  The Blugolds had a plus three turnover margin against the Tommies.  Because of a fast start and a few big plays, the Blugolds were able to parlay that into a victory in a game in which the other statistics were decidedly lopsided.

 For example:

 First Downs:           St. Thomas 25        Eau Claire  5

Offensive Plays:      St.  Thomas   103    Eau Claire  50

Total Offense:         St. Thomas  479      Eau Claire  205

Fast Start

The Blugolds led 14-0 a minute and a half into the game. Keshaun Story returned the opening kickoff 77 yards to the  St. Thomas 19. After a false start penalty, Austin Belot broke through the left side of the Tommie defense and scored from 24 yards out.  After the ensuing kickoff, Josh Parks fumbled on the St. Thomas first offensive play and the ball was recovered by Eau Claire’s Carmelo Rosado.  Two plays later, quarterback Jonathan Malueg hit Antwan Moore with a 29 yard TD pass and the Blugolds led 14-0 before either team broke a sweat.

 Big Plays:

Along with the long return of the opening kickoff, Blugold lightning struck on their three touchdowns as well. Their scoring drives were comprised of one play, two plays, and one play.  Along with the aforementioned touchdowns, the Blugolds final touchdown was a 77 yard Belot gallop with four and a half minutes left in the second quarter.

Second Half Quagmire

The Blugolds managed to win in spite of gaining just 17 yards and one first down in the second half.

Stops When Needed

While the Eau Claire defense gave up 479 yards, they came up with stops and turnovers when they needed to, yielding only 20 points to the vaunted Tommie offense.  No stop was more important than the last one. St. Thomas pulled within two points on a 30 yard TD pass with seven seconds left in the game. However, the Blugolds batted down the pass on the conversion attempt to seal the upset victory.

Bounce Back

The big victory came just two weeks after losing to St. Norbert 27-21.  Before that game, the Knights hadn’t beaten a WIAC school in football in the past 38 years.

 
Tested!
 
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Head Coach Kevin Bullis wanted his team to be tested prior to starting the grind of the 2019 WIAC schedule. He got his wish. After defeating Dubuque and Concordia-Moorhead, two schools expected to be in the upper echelon of their respective conferences, the Warhawks traveled to Chicago on Saturday to take on the nation’s fifth ranked NAIA team, St. Xavier.  The Cougars proved to be fast and physical and an excellent pre-conference test for a UW-W team with big aspirations this year.

       As a scholarship team, St. Xavier had excellent size, speed, and athleticism.  They were able to put up more yards than the Hawks’ first two opponents combined. Defensively, the Cougars held Whitewater to 283 yards, their lowest output of the season.  The Warhawks faced adversity from, the outset when starting quarterback Zach Oles was injured on the first play from scrimmage.  But Max Meylor came into the game and performed admirably in leading the Warhawks to a hard-fought 28-20 victory.  “We talk about discipline and guys staying disciplined to what we do: Max jumped in there without batting an eye, no one else batted an eye and it’s the next man up,” Bullis said. “Max did a fantastic job to take all of those snaps in a nail-biter like that with all that stress is impressive. We’ll learn more about Zach as time goes along.”

       Meylor, who completed 17 of 27 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, made three clutch deep throws that carried the Hawks to victory.  With about a minute left in the first half, the Warhawks faced a 3rd and ten at the Cougar 30 yard line, trailing 13-7. Meylor hit Tyler Holte on a 29 yard pass down the left seam. Meylor threw it where only Holte had a chance to catch it and Holte responded with a spectacular one handed catch at the one yard line. One play later, Alex Peete dove over the goal line propelling Whitewater to a 14-13 halftime lead. 

       With six minutes left in the third quarter, the Warhawks trailed 20-14 when Meylor struck again.  Facing a 3rd and 20 from the St. Xavier 34, Meylor hit freshman Sam Delany who streaked past his defender, caught the pass at the back of the endzone, and tapped his foot down before being driven out of bounds.  The Hawks once again went on top, 21-20. It was a lead the Warhawks would cling to throughout the fourth quarter.  Trying to put the game away with less than a minute left, the Warhawks clung to the one point lead facing a fourth and nine play from the St. Xavier 19 yard line. Once again Meylor struck, hitting Derek Kumerow with a back shoulder pass just inside the left pylon and the Hawks sealed their 28-20 victory. 

       Coach Bullis couldn’t have been happier with the test or with the way his team responded to it. “We pride ourselves on being fast, physical and disciplined. It’s our identity,” said Kevin Bullis on the WFAW postgame radio show.  “We say it, we live it, we believe in it and our kids played that way today.”

Today's Opponent: St. Xavier Notes

 

Highly Ranked:

The Warhawks opponent Saturday is ranked 5th nationally in the NAIA. Last year, they made the quarterfinals before being eliminated by eventual champion Morningside College.

 

 Strong History:

 The Cougars have advanced to the NAIA playoffs in each of the last two years and won the NAIA national championship in 2011.

 

 They Like to Throw:

 In 2018, The Cougers gained 70.7% of their yardage through the air.  In their first game of the 2019 season, St. Xavier passed for 274 yards and rushed for 156 yards.

 

 Experienced O-Line

All five starters return from the offensive line which paved the way in 2018 for the Cougers to score 30.1 points 396 yards per game in 2018.

 

 QB Starts Fast

 Senior QB Alex Martinez started fast in their opener completing 20 of 27 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns.  The Cougers won their opener over Lawrence Tech 45-13.

 

 Shutting Down the Pass

The Cougars throttled the LT passing attack limiting them to 9 completions in 27 attempts for only 121 yards. They also intercepted three

UW-W at Concordia-Moorhead

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 Post Game Notes

UW-W 20

Concordia-Moorhead 10

 

Defensive Play of the Game:

With the Warhawks clinging to a three point lead with 12 minutes left in the game, the Cobbers lined up for a third and nine from the UW-W 16 yard line. After a play action fake, QB Blake Kragness attempted to hit senior wide receiver Matt Bye, who ran a skinny post into the end zone. Kragness overthrew Bye and Warhawk safety Mark McGrath flew onto the scene to make his third interception of the year.  The play by McGrath ended C-M’s last real threat.

 Offensive Drive of the Game:

After McGrath’s interception, the Hawks took over from their own 20 yard line with 11:52 remaining in the game. Leading 13-10, the UW-W offense proceeded to execute a 14 play 80 yard drive culminating in a 14 yard touchdown run by quarterback Zach Oles. The drive consumed 6:53 off the clock and the Cobbers never threatened again.

 Offensive Play of the Game:

Before Whitewater scored on the aforementioned drive, the Hawks faced a fourth and 11 on the Cobber 33 yard line.  Oles hit JT Parish on a post pattern at the 14 for a crucial first down. The ball was well thrown, put still required a leaping, stretching catch by Parish.

 Taking Away the Cobbers’ Strength

The Cobbers are an option team that make their living on the ground. For example, in 2018 C-M averaged 5.0 yards per carry and gained 73% of their yardage on the ground. Saturday, the Hawks held the Cobbers to 62 yards rushing and a 1.8 yard per carry average.

 Offense Features Balance

The Hawks rushed the ball 37 times and threw it 33. UW-W got 10 first downs rushing and 11 passing. Whitewater gained 145 yards rushing and gained 268 yards passing. One of the Hawks’ TD’s came on the ground and the other through the air.

 Double Your Fun

For the second week in a row, the Hawks gained over 400 yards on offense while yielding less than 200 on defense.

 Spreading it Out Again

For the second week in a row, eight Warhawks caught passes on Saturday.

 Gaining Experience

The Warhawks traveled and played eight sophomores and two freshmen against the Cobbers.

 Next Up

This coming Saturday the Warhawks conclude the non-conference portion of their schedule when the head to the southwest side of Chicago to take on the St. Xavier University Cougers. The Cougers are 1-0 this year and are ranked fifth in the nation in the NAIA.

 

 

 

 

Opponent’s Last Box Score

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 How did Saturday's  opponent do in their last game?  Last week, the Concordia-Moorhead Cobbers traveled to Wisconsin to take on UW-LaCrosse.  Last year, the Cobbers were 5-5. The Eagles were 7-3.  UW-LaCrosse won in overtime 21-14

 Warhawks’ Saturday Opponent:  Concord-Moorhead

 Last Week  From the Box Score

 Points weren’t the only thing hard to come by last Saturday afternoon in La Crosse.  The two teams combined for only 26 first downs (by comparison, UW-W had 30 first downs against Dubuque). C-M had 15 and La Crosse had 11.

 The Cobbers ran the ball 68% of the time last week with 47 rushing attempts and only 22 pass attempts.

 The C-M passing game struggled, completing only 6 of 22 passes for 86 yards.  QB Blake Kragness did complete a touchdown pass along with throwing one interception.

 Only two Cobbers caught passes. 6’4” 210 pound senior Matt Bye and 5’9” 175 pound sophomore Andy Gravdahl each caught three passes last Saturday.

 C-M’s leading rusher had only one carry. With the offense flowing to the left, Gravdahl took a handoff coming back around the right and took it 45 yards for a touchdown.  The second leading rusher, 5’9”, 200 pound sophomore Logan Hatfield gained 42 yards in 12 rushing attempts. Kragness, a 6’5” 230 pound senior, gained 32 yards in 16 carries.  If you take away the two times and 16 yards lost from being sacked, Kregness gained 48 yards in 14 carries, a 3.42 yard per carry average.

 UW-L held Concordia-Moorhead to 241 total yards. 

 The Cobbers fumbled five times and lost three of them.

 The Cobbers were penalized only two times for 14 yards compared to UW-L’s nine penalties for 80 yards. 

 Punter Alex Berg had a great game last week. He averaged 46.2 yards on his five points and knocked three inside the 20 with no touchbacks.

 The Cobbers held UW-L to 70 yards rushing and 2.6 yards per carry.

 The Cobbers gave up 321 total yards and the only touchdowns UW-L scored in regulation were on passes of 73 and 42 yards. 

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Game One Notes and Thoughts

 

 The Warhawks opened the season with a 42-7 victory over the University of Dubuque on Saturday. Game stories can be found on UWWsports.com and GazetteExtra.com.  Here are some Notes and Thoughts about Saturday’s victory.

 

Pace-Setting Moment:

 With 5 ½ minutes left in the first quarter and the Hawks leading 7-0, Mark McGrath lined up on the outside left of the Warhawk punt block formation.  He sprinted in untouched and blocked and recovered the ensuing punt. That set up the Hawks on the Dubuque 17 yard line. Five plays later, Alex Peete scored from seven yards out to give the Hawks a 14-0 lead.

 

Offensive Keys:

 Spreading the Wealth

Ronny Ponick, Alex Peete, and Jarrod Ware each carried the ball 12 or more teams, each gained over 5.5 yards per carry, and each scored at least one touchdown (Peete scored two).  In addition, Ryan Wisniewski carried four times from the wildcat and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. In all, the Hawks rushed for 248 yards and four TD’s.

 

Spreading the Wealth Part II

Quarterbacks Zach Oles and Max Meylor spread the ball around, completing passes to eight different receivers. Derek Kumerow had six receptions for 46 yards, Tyler Holte had four receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown, and Ryan Wisniewski caught four passes for 38 yards and a touchdown.

 

Ball Security

The Warhawks ran 90 plays and did not fumble. The only interception was a meaningless pick on the last play of the first half on a desperation heave by Oles.  This team will be very difficult to beat if they don’t turn the ball over. This was a good start.

 Drive of the game

When the Warhawks took possession with just under nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, they hadn’t scored since just under the 10 minute mark of the second quarter. The Hawks proceeded to drive 65 yards in 10 plays to essentially put the game away. The Hawks got runs from Jarrod Ware of nine and 12 yards,  and an Alex Peete 16 yard run to help get them to the  Dubuque 14 yard line.  However, the drive was threatened when Oles was sacked for a loss of 13.  The Hawks faced a second and goal from the 27.  Oles got great protection as he dropped back to pass. Tyler Holte ran a post from his right slot position. In making his break, Holte froze and ran right past his defender and was five yards behind him when he caught the  pass from Oles at the five and strolled into the end zone giving the Warhawks a 28-7 lead.

 

Defensive Keys

 

Shutting Down the Run

The number one goal each week for the Warhawk defense is to make the opponent one dimensional.  These Spartans favor the run and came in banking on quality running back Dwayne Allen to grind out yards and keep the ball away from the Warhawk offense. However, the Hawks defensive front proved too stiff for Dubuque as Allen was held to just 23 yards rushing and the entire Spartan team was held to 25 yards on 23 carries.

 

Stepping Up On Third Down

The Warhawk defense rose to the occasion on third down holding Dubuque to a success rate of just 18% (2 for 11). The Hawks  limited the Spartans to just nine first downs all afternoon.

 

McGrath

Mark McGrath was all over the field on Saturday. The junior safety intercepted two passes, recovered a fumble, and blocked a punt, accounting for all of the Warhawks’ takeaways. Needless to say his impact was monumental in the outcome of this football game.

 Saturday, the Hawks will play at Concordia Moorhead in Moorhead, Minnesota. Kickoff is slated for noon central time.

 

 

Warhawk Preview: Offense

Strength builds upon strength.   One of the strengths of the UW-Whitewater football program has been an ability to win games.  Last year was a prime example as the Hawks went 13-1 and advanced to the National Semi-finals for the second time in four years under Head Coach Kevin Bullis. What made 2018 especially unique was the margin of victory they were able to achieve in each of their conference games. UW-W won every conference game by at least 20 points. When you are playing in the strongest D-III football conference in the country, that is strength. As a result of that achievement, the 2018 Warhawks were able to give snaps to a lot of players, giving them valuable experience heading into the 2019. As a result, the 2019 roster is filled with both depth and experience at nearly every position.  Here is a rundown of the 2019 Warhawk Offense:

        At quarterback,  the Hawks will carry four QB’s in 2019. Zach Oles and Max Meylor have been battling for the starting QB  throughout fall camp.  Oles played in nine games in a backup role in 2018 after transferring from NCAA D-I FCS Butler. This is Meylor’s first year in the program after transferring from D-II Lindenwood.  Providing depth in the QB room are Destin Chance, an athletic freshman from Auburn, IL and Jake Eskoff, a pro style , 6’1” 210 pound freshman from Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, IL.

         The running back room is deep with talent to say the least. Returning is junior Alex Peete, a 2018 second team all-ameerican. Peete gained 1368 yards and scored 22 rushing TD’s a year ago. Peete’s rushing touchdown total was sixth best in program history for a single season. Also expected to get a lot of carries is team captain Ronny Ponick.  Ponick gained 890 yards and scored 11 touchdowns a year ago. Ponick gained 6.4 yards per carry last year.   Returning for another run at a senior season is the explosive Jarrod Ware. Ware was injured in the second game of the season last year and was granted a red-shirt season by the NCAA. A number of freshman and sophomores provide additional depth.

         If the running back position is deep, then the wide receiver group is an embarrassment of riches. Last year’s leading receiver, junior Ryan Wisniewski is back. “Wiz” caught 36 passes for 696 yards and eight touchdowns last year. JT Parish, who caught 25 passes for 576 yards and seven touchdowns also returns. Talented junior Derek Kumerow and 6’4” senior Nathaniel Osterlooalso returns. Primary punt returner Josh Ringelberg will also add solid depth as will the Univeristy of Wisconsin transfer Sam Delaney. Sophomore Tyler Holte will also see plenty of action after playing in six games as a freshman last year. Junior Matt Aikin and primary punter Andy Cooper head a group of other really talented athletes that could figure into the mix before all is said and done.

         Of course, triggering it all will be a deep and talented offensive line.  The Hawks return four of five starters along the front line along with a number of others who have experience as well. Here is what the starting front wall currently looks like for the Hawks:

The unit is led by junior team captain Quinn Meinerz. Meinerz, a 6’3” 320 pound guard who was a first team all-WIAC selection last season as a sophomore.  Lining up next to Meinerz at left tackle will be 6’3” 290 pound senior, Matthew Saager.  Saager, a second team all-WIAC selection last year played in all 14 games for the Hawks in 2018. The starting center is expected to be 6’0” 315 pound junior Ethan Kee. Kee may miss a game or two early in the season due to injury.  Replacing him will be 6’2” 265 pound sophomore Brandon Ausprung. On the right side, like the left, both starters return. Kyle Gannon, a 6’1” 290 pound junior mans the tackle position.  Gannon was a second team all-WIAC selection in 2018.  Bryan Behrendt, a 6’6” 310 pound senior will line up at guard. Behrendt is a three time all-WIAC honor role athlete. As with every offensive position, behind the starters are a host of talented players working hard to earn playing time.

         If the Hawks’ 2019 season is as successful as  2018, many younger players will once again gain valuable experience with game snaps. Strength builds upon strength.

 

Experienced Hawks Break Camp With a Sense of Purpose

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     As the Warhawks left the field at Crusader Stadium on December 8, 2018, Warhawk linebacker Jacob Erbs wasn't going to go quietly. He bellowed defiantly, "We will be back, baby. We will be back."  The Hawks' season had just ended with a 31-14 defeat to Mary Hardin-Baylor, the eventual National Champion.  While the Hawks went down that day, Erbs and the rest of the Warhawks had a clear sense that the full story hasn't been written yet.  

CHECK BACK FRIDAY FOR A PREVIEW OF THE 2019 SEASON

Second Half Tempo Ignites Offense in Win Over LaCrosse

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    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

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     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

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         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

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     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

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          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

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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

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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)

 

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