Football

UW-Whitewater Picked To Win Football Title

MADISON, Wis.--University of the Wisconsin-Whitewater, the defending conference champion and winner of 11 of the last 14 titles, is the favorite to secure the 2019 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) football championship, according to a preseason poll conducted by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.
 
The Warhawks own a conference-best 36 first-place finishes and enter the 2019 campaign ranked third in NCAA Division III by College Football America and fourth by D3football.com, Lindy’s Sports and Street & Smith’s. UW-Whitewater brings back nine starters on offense from last year’s squad that advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division III championship. Junior running back Alex Peete led the WIAC with 1,275 rushing yards, 20 rushing touchdowns and 126 points. He surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark in seven contests, including a season-high 158 yards against St. Norbert College (Wis.) on Nov. 24. Also back are junior wide receivers Ryan Wisniewski and JT Parish, who each had seven touchdown receptions with Wisniewski adding 652 receiving yards and Parish 560 receiving yards.
 
The defense features senior linebacker Jacob Erbs, who had a team-best 75 tackles and finished second with 10 tackles for loss. Garrett Purdy and Nate Tranel, both senior defensive backs, accounted for 41 tackles and 22 tackles, respectively. Junior kicker Wojciech Gasienica made a league-high 15 field goals and 61 extra-point attempts.
 
The Warhawks are followed in the conference predictions by:  UW-La Crosse; UW-Oshkosh; UW-Platteville; UW-Stout; UW-Stevens Point; UW-Eau Claire; and UW-River Falls.
 
UW-La Crosse ranks second on the conference’s all-time chart with 33 titles and has seven starters returning on both offense and defense from the 2018 squad that posted five WIAC wins for the second straight year. The Eagles’ 15 victories in the last two seasons are the most since 17 wins from 2004-05. Senior wide receiver Cole Spieker had a WIAC-best 10 touchdown receptions in 2018 and finished second with 86.7 receiving yards per contest, including four games of at least 100 yards. He also returned three punts for a touchdown. Senior wide receiver Dominic Labellarte contributed 555 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns, while senior wide receiver Jake Simuncak racked up 1,344 all-purpose yards, including 770 from kickoff returns, 375 from punt returns and 194 receiving. Senior defensive lineman Zachary Zillmer led the Eagles with 13 tackles for loss, including five quarterback sacks. Junior linebacker Rusty Murphy finished second on the team with 61 tackles, including eight tackles for loss.
 
UW-Oshkosh, ranked No. 13 by College Football America and No. 25 by Street & Smith’s, brings back its top receiver from 2018 in senior Riley Kallas, who had 47 catches for 586 yards and four touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Mitchell Gerend also hauled in a team-best four touchdowns, while senior running back Mitch Gerhartz led the Titans with 488 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Junior quarterback Kyle Radavich completed 57.8 percent of his passes and threw only six interceptions in 225 attempts. Junior linebacker Logan Heise and junior defensive lineman Brandon Hughes each contributed 41 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss with Heise adding 2.5 quarterback sacks. Head coach Pat Cerroni needs five victories to reach 100 in his career. He would become the 10th coach in league archives to reach the milestone.
 
UW-Platteville junior linebacker Eric Siedenburg had a team-best 76 tackles during the 2018 campaign, while senior defensive back Tyler Reinhardt was third with 66 tackles and recorded a team-high four interceptions. Junior running back Bo Babich led the Pioneers with nine total touchdowns, including eight rushing, and junior wide receiver Donald Allender had a team-best four touchdown receptions. Junior quarterback Colin Scheutz completed 54.5 percent of his passes for 1,970 yards and 10 touchdowns. Head coach Mike Emendorfer is also serving as the university’s interim athletics director.
 
UW-Stout is coming off a 2018 campaign that featured five overall victories for the second straight year – the program’s best two-year stretch since 11 wins from 2010-11. The Blue Devils welcome back eight starters on both offense and defense in 2019. Junior wide receiver Levy Hamer topped the WIAC with 1,525 all-purpose yards, 7.30 receptions per contest and 99.7 receiving yards per game a season ago. He led the Blue Devils with seven touchdown receptions and returned 25 kickoffs for 475 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Tyler Seymour was second on the team with 445 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Kevion McDonald returns after missing all of the 2018 season due to injury. Senior linebacker Luke Wilz finished second on the team with 81 tackles in 2018.
 
UW-Stevens Point sophomore kicker Victor Ponterio finished third in the conference with nine made field goals, including all three of his attempts to account for all the team’s scoring in a 9-3 triumph at UW-Eau Claire on Oct. 6, 2018. Sophomore Max Herro split time at quarterback and completed 53.6 percent of his passes for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. He also gained 243 yards rushing with a pair of touchdowns. Senior defensive back Sam Shafer finished second on the team with 74 tackles, while senior defensive back OJ James was second on the squad with four interceptions.
 
UW-Eau Claire welcomes Wesley Beschorner as the 17th head coach in program history. Most recently, he had been the quarterbacks coach at University of Maryland and previously held positions at University of South Dakota, University of Pittsburgh and Rice University. The Blugolds posted four overall wins a season ago, which were more than the previous three years combined – and the most since the 2012 campaign. In 2018, senior linebacker Sam Romanski led the WIAC with 14.5 quarterback sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss, while junior linebacker Victor Martinelli finished fourth on the team with 40 tackles.
 
UW-River Falls senior quarterback Ben Beckman completed 163-of-316 passes for 2,155 yards and 13 touchdowns during the 2018 campaign. He was the only WIAC player to produce a 400-yard passing effort a season ago with 405 yards against UW-Platteville on Oct. 6. Sophomore running back Sam Altena had a team-best 734 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns, while senior wide receiver Alex Herink was second in the league with nine touchdown receptions and added 692 receiving yards. Senior linebacker Max Praschak was second in the WIAC with 107 tackles, including a 19-tackle effort against Bethel University (Minn.) on Sept. 8.
 

2019 Preseason Predictions--Voted on by WIAC Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors
2018 Record
1. UW-Whitewater 12-1 overall, 7-0 WIAC
2. UW-La Crosse 7-3, 5-2
3. UW-Oshkosh 6-4, 4-3
4. UW-Platteville 4-6, 2-5
5. UW-Stout 5-5, 3-4
6. UW-Stevens Point 4-6, 3-4
7. UW-Eau Claire 4-6, 2-5
8. UW-River Falls 3-7, 2-5

 
Team Capsules
 
UW-Eau Claire
Head Coach:  Wesley Beschorner; 1st season at UWEC; 0-0
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense:  37/17
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense:  33/15
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker:  3/1
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense:  4/7
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense:  8/3
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker:  1/0

Returning All-WIAC:  Victor Martinelli, Jr., LB (2017-Honorable, 2018-Honorable); Sam Romanski, Sr., LB (2018-First)
 
Notable Returning Offensive Players:  Austin Belot, Jr., RB; Brycen Froelich, Jr., WR; Antwan Moore, Sr., WR
 
Notable Returning Defensive Players:  Sam Burzynski, Jr., DB; Alex Mashak, Jr., LB; Carmelo Rosado, Jr., DB; Cameron Swanson, Sr., DB
 
Notable Returning Special Teams Players:  Conrad Bolz, Jr., RB/Returner; Brad Goetsch, Jr., K/P
 
 
UW-La Crosse
Head Coach:  Mike Schmidt; 4th season at UWL; 20-10
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense:  37/19
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense:  37/19
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker:  5/0
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense:  7/4
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense:  7/4
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker:  2/0

Returning All-WIAC:  Connor Berry, So., OL (2018-Second); Ryan Flathers, Sr., DL (2018-Second); Rusty Murphy, Jr., LB (2018-Honorable); Michael Pakos, Sr., K/P (2017-Second); Sean Parker, Jr., P (2017-Honorable, 2018-Second); Jake Simuncak, Sr., WR (2018-Second); Cole Spieker, Sr., WR (2017-Second, 2018-First/WR, 2018-Honorable/Special Teams); Zachary Zillmer, Sr., DL (2018-Second)
 
Notable Returning Offensive Players:  Devonte Amos, Jr., WR; Jalen Clark, Sr., RB; Dominic Labellarte, Sr., WR; Alex Richardson, Jr., OL
 
Notable Returning Defensive Players:  Joey Bolda, Jr., LB; Peter Kissling, Sr., DB; Noah Schober, Jr., DB; Anthony Schumann, Sr., DL
 
Notable Returning Special Teams Players:  Ryan Beirne, So., K; Connor Wears, Sr., LS
 
 
UW-Oshkosh
Head Coach:  Pat Cerroni; 13th season at UWO; 95-39
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense:  20/9
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense:  19/14
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker:  2/2
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense:  5/6
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense:  4/7
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker:  1/1

Returning All-WIAC:  Brady Heimer, Sr., DL (2017-Second); Riley Kallas, Sr., WR (2018-Honorable)
 
Notable Returning Offensive Players:  Mitchell Gerend, Jr., WR; Mitch Gerhartz, Sr., RB; Kyle Radavich, Jr., QB; Alex Wipperfurth, Sr., OL
 
Notable Returning Defensive Players:  Kollyn Beyer, Jr., DB; Logan Heise, Jr., LB; Brandon Hughes, Jr., DL; Trenton Lacombe, Jr., DL
 
Notable Returning Special Teams Players:  Mitchell Berghs, Sr., LS; Peyton Peterson, Sr., K
 
 
UW-Platteville
Head Coach:  Mike Emendorfer; 21st season at UWP; 101-101
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense:  19/6
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense:  22/7
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker:  1/1
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense:  7/4
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense:  7/4
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker:  1/1

Returning All-WIAC:  Nick Broadhurst, Sr., C (2018-Honorable); Luke Johnson, Sr., CB (2017-Second); Drew Rakers, Sr., LS (2018-Second); Tyler Reinhardt, Sr., DB (2018-Second); Eric Siedenburg, Jr., LB (2018-Honorable); Hank Westemeyer, Sr., OL (2018-Second)
 
Notable Returning Offensive Players:  Donald Allender, Jr., WR; Bo Babich, Jr., RB; Wyatt Thompson, Sr., RB; Colin Scheutz, Jr., QB
 
Notable Returning Defensive Players:  Antonio Jose-Ramos, Sr., DB; Jackson McMahan, Sr., DL; Alex Rezny, Sr., DL; Jordan Zilbar, Sr., LB
 
Notable Returning Special Teams Players:  Sam Herkert, Sr., K
 

UW-River Falls
Head Coach:  Matt Walker; 12th season (9th at UWRF); 43-67 (overall) / 21-59 (UWRF)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense:  32/14
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense:  28/27
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker:  0/2
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense:  8/3
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense:  6/5
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker:  0/2

Returning All-WIAC:  Sam Altena, So., RB (2018-Honorable); Ben Beckman, Sr., QB (2018-Second); Alex Herink, Sr., WR (2018-Second); Max Praschak, Sr., LB (2017-First, 2018-Honorable); Levi Ross, Sr., OL (2017-Second, 2018-First)
 
Notable Returning Offensive Players:  Tyler Blum, Jr., RB; Anthony Silva, Jr., RB
 
Notable Returning Defensive Players:  Ted Androli, Jr., LB; Freedom Hunt, Sr., DB; Antoin Kealoha, So., DB; Charlie Sanders, Sr., DL
 
Notable Returning Special Teams Players:  Tyler Blum, Jr., RB; Antoin Kealoha, So., DB
 
 
UW-Stevens Point
Head Coach:  Greg Breitbach; 7th season (2nd at UWSP); 14-51 (overall) / 4-6 (UWSP)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense:  18/18
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense:  22/14
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker:  4/0
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense:  6/5
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense:  6/5
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker:  2/0

Returning All-WIAC:  Jalen Burks, Sr., OL (2018-Second); OJ James, Sr., DB (2018-Honorable); Victor Ponterio, So., K (2018-Second); Sam Shafer, Sr., DB (2018-Honorable)
 
Notable Returning Offensive Players:  Max Herro, So., QB; Jonte Webb, Sr., WR; ShamaJ Williams, Jr., RB
 
Notable Returning Defensive Players:  James Fay, Jr., S; Felix King, So., DB
 
Notable Returning Special Teams Players:  Sam Bliese, So., P
 
 
UW-Stout
Head Coach:  Clayt Birmingham; 10th season at UWST; 36-53
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense:  17/5
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense:  19/6
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker:  0/2
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense:  8/3
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense:  8/3
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker:  0/2

Returning All-WIAC:  Sean Borgerding, So., QB (2018-Honorable); Levy Hamer, Jr., WR (2018-Second); Kevion McDonald, Sr., WR (2017-Second); Alex Negoski, Jr., OL (2018-Honorable); Kierre Rhodes, Sr., DB (2018-Honorable); Bailey Roux, Jr., C (2018-Second); Tyler Seymour, So., WR (2018-Second); Luke Wilz, Sr., LB (2018-Second); Aaron Wisecup, Sr., DL (2018-Honorable)
 
Notable Returning Offensive Players:  Parker Fossum, So., WR; Justin Herbst, Sr., OL; Josh Nitek, So., RB; Thomas Roble, Sr., OL
 
Notable Returning Defensive Players:  Haydon Miller, Jr., LB; Dylan Peterson, Sr., DL; Jed Schlegel, Sr., DB; Brandon Vecchio, Sr., LB
 
Notable Returning Special Teams Players:  None
 
 
UW-Whitewater
Head Coach:  Kevin Bullis; 5th season at UWW; 43-7
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense:  47/6
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense:  42/10
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker:  3/0
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense:  9/2
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense:  3/8
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker:  2/0

Returning All-WIAC:  Jordan Brand, Sr., DL (2018-Second); Jacob Erbs, Sr., LB (2018-Second); Kyle Gannon, Jr., OL (2018-Second); Wojciech Gasienica, Jr., K (2018-Honorable); Justin Hansen, Sr., DL (2018-Honorable); Quinn Meinerz, Jr., OL (2018-First); JT Parish, Jr., WR (2018-First); Alex Peete, Jr., RB (2018-First); Justin Prostinak, Sr., Special Teams (2018-First); Garrett Purdy, Sr., DB (2018-Second); Josh Ringelberg, Sr., Returner (2017-Honorable, 2018-Honorable); Matthew Saager, Sr., OL (2018-Second); Nate Tranel, Sr., DB (2018-Second); Ryan Wisniewski, Jr., WR (2018-Second)
 
Notable Returning Offensive Players:  Bryan Behrendt, Sr., OL; Derek Kumerow, Jr., WR; Zach Oles, Jr., QB; Ronny Ponick, Sr., RB
 
Notable Returning Defensive Players:  Matt Anderson, Sr., LB; Kaleb Kaminski, So., LB; Vince Klim, Sr., DL; Mark McGrath, Jr., DB
 
Notable Returning Special Teams Players:  Andy Cooper, Sr., P; Mason Fleury, Sr., LS
 
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