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Fresh Start, Good Start, Protecting the Zero

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         When it was the Warhawk linemen and linebackers’ turn to take the field for warm ups at Chalmer’s Field, among the adrenaline driven hoots and hollers from the fired up group was a ringing, “We are back, baby. We ARE BACK!”  And that vociferation exemplifies the prevailing response to the arrival of 2018 from everyone within the Whitewater program. Since January, the players have trained to become bigger, stronger, and faster. They focused on techniques and the offensive guys learned the new system installed by new Offensive Coordinator Peter Jennings. And the entire team worked relentlessly in the fall camp. And all of it aimed at wiping away the disappointing start of 2017 and reestablishing themselves to the standard this program has lived by for more than the past decade.  For most in the UW-W program, January 1stto September 1stfelt like an eternity. 

         The game Saturday evening at the University of Dubuque represented an opportunity to play a football game without the 2017 “what ifs” associated with two opening season losses.  There’s something to be said for a fresh start. If nothing else, the Warhawks’ 2018 season opener represented that:  A fresh start and an opportunity to forge a destiny without looking back.

         The Hawks didn’t play perfectly in their season opening 38-6 victory over the University of Dubuque Spartans.  The Hawks committed far too many penalties, the offensive line took a few series to get their legs under them, the passing game lacked championship efficiency, and the defense didn’t get any takeaways.  So there is plenty to work on and plenty of corrections to be made. But this is game one, not game ten. The mistakes are correctible and will most certainly be addressed.  

         What went right for UW-W in their season opening victory?  First of all, the Hawks played with fierce physicality and beat on both the Dubuque offense and defense over the course of the entire game. Also, several Hawks flashed an explosiveness and playmaking ability. Running backs Alex Peete and Jarrod Ware both showed an ability to make would be tacklers miss.  Receivers Ryan Wisniewski and Kendall Gould both flashed signs of being explosive players that will be very hard for defenders to deal with. Both the offensive and defensive lines got stronger as the game progressed.  The defense was hard hitting and stifling, holding Dubuque to 186 total yards.  Quarterback Cole Wilber showed good run/pass decision-making and made some throws that are simply rare among D-III quarterbacks.  

         But what mostly went right, is the number that didn’t change.  There is only one number on the right side of the won-loss record that feels acceptable to those in the Whitewater program.  And that number is zero. And unlike last year, the zero in the loss column held firm Saturday night.  That zero feels normal.  And the 2018 Warhawk team will be fighting fiercely one week at a time to protect that zero.  The Hawks took step on Saturday night.  The next team to try to mess with the Hawks’ loss column is Concordia Moorhead, a team who did that very thing a year ago. The Cobbers visit the Perk on September 8th.  Kickoff is set at 1:00