Hawks Finish Dominant Regular Season 10-0

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     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

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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!

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         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

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     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)

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   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

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           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

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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

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“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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