Whitewater Picked to Win WIAC, Pointers 7th

MADISON, Wis.--Three-time defending NCAA Division III champion, and seven-time defending league winner, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is expected to claim the 2012 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) football championship in a preseason poll conducted by the league’s sports information directors.

For the second straight season, the schedule for each WIAC team will include one “non-conference game” against another WIAC opponent. The second game played between both schools will count as the league contest.

The Warhawks, ranked No. 1 in the D3football.com preseason projections, were the unanimous choice in the conference poll. UW-Whitewater enters the 2012 campaign riding a 45-game winning streak - the longest active stretch in NCAA football (any division) and the fourth-longest all-time. The Warhawks have advanced to the national title game (Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl) seven straight seasons.

Six starters return from last year’s squad on offense and seven on defense. Junior Eric Kindler established a league record with 31 field goals attempted and matched the WIAC mark with 22 conversions in 2011, while senior Tyler Huber accumulated 1,244 receiving yards - the fifth-highest mark in conference archives.

Gone from a season ago is two-time WIAC Player of the Year Levell Coppage, who amassed 7,795 rushing yards, 1,324 rushing attempts, 109 rushing touchdowns and 654 points scored - all conference career records. Head coach Lance Leipold owns more national titles (four) than losses (three) in his five years in charge of the Warhawks.

UW-Oshkosh finished second in the WIAC last season for its highest league finish since 1976 and returns 35 letterwinners from that group. The Titans are looking to record their first back-to-back seven-win seasons in school history (118 years). Senior Nate Wara, who has started all 30 games in his career, ranks second in school archives with 5,570 passing yards and 50 passing touchdowns. He also rushed for a team-high 605 yards last season. Senior Andrew Thompson led the conference with seven quarterback sacks in 2011 to spearhead a defense that ranked 13th in NCAA Division III in pass efficiency defense.

UW-Platteville, ranked No. 23 by D3football.com, is coming off a 2011 campaign that featured five WIAC victories for the first time since 1990. In 2011, the Pioneers ranked 13th in NCAA Division III in turnover margin (1.20), and posted road wins at UW-River Falls for the first time since 1981, at UW-Stevens Point for the first time since 1988 and at UW-Stout for the first time since 1999. Senior Corey Marks is striving to become the program’s first three-time All-WIAC first team selection since Matt Kent (2001-03). Marks led the team with 4.5 quarterback sacks a season ago.

UW-Eau Claire will play its first two games of the season at home - marking the 12th time in history that the Blugolds will be at home two or more times to start the season. The Blugolds will meet University of St. Thomas (Minn.) for the first time in program history in the season opener. Junior Joel Sweeney enters the 2012 campaign 14th on the school’s all-time career rushing list with 1,630 yards. Senior Austin Neu is sixth in passing yards (4,307) and pass completions (340).

UW-Stout returns four of its five top rushers, six of seven top receivers and five of five leading scorers from 2011, but the returning quarterbacks have attempted 18 total passes in their combined careers. The Blue Devils have controlled the time of possession every year since 1999. Senior Eric Brown led the team with 664 rushing yards, eight touchdowns and 6.9 yards per punt return a season ago.

UW-La Crosse will play its first four games on the road in 2012 with its first home game on October 6. The Eagles return their top three tacklers from a season ago in seniors Jack Leahy (88 tackles), Jake Meckstroth (84) and Matthew Buswell (78). Leahy also contributed a team-leading 10 tackles for loss. Senior Christian Hallingstad finished third in NCAA Division III in punting average last year with 42.6 yards.

Tom Journell begins his first season as head coach at UW-Stevens Point, replacing John Miech who compiled the fourth-highest win total in league history with 156 victories in 24 seasons. The Pointers have won at least six games in 20 of the last 24 seasons, and have had just three losing seasons since 1988. In 2011, UW-Stevens Point ranked 12th in NCAA Division III in net punting (35.3 yards), while senior Colton Zimmerman established school single-season records with 31 kickoff return attempts and 603 kickoff return yards.

UW-River Falls seniors John Wahlstrom and Nate Brandt totaled 96 receptions and 905 receiving yards in 2011. The duo combined for the most receptions by two players from the same team in the WIAC. Senior Nate Smits was third in the league in tackles for loss last year with 11, while classmate Mike Cano had four interceptions - the most by a Falcon since 2008.

2012 Preseason Predictions--Voted on by WIAC Sports Information Directors
2011 Record

1. UW-Whitewater (8) 15-0 overall, 7-0 WIAC

2. UW-Oshkosh 7-3, 5-2

3. UW-Platteville 7-3, 5-2

4. UW-Eau Claire 5-5, 3-4

5. UW-Stout 5-5, 3-4

6. UW-La Crosse 3-7, 2-5

7. UW-Stevens Point 4-6, 2-5

8. UW-River Falls 1-9, 1-6

( )--First-place votes

Team Snippets

UW-Eau Claire

Head Coach: Todd Glaser; 10th season (7th at UWEC); 46-46 (overall) / 33-29 (UWEC)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 11/13
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 19/8
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/0
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 5/6
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 7/4
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/0
Returning All-WIAC: Austin Goetsch, Sr., TE (2011-Second); Sean Graham, Jr., LB (2011-Honorable); Jimmy Hall, Sr., DL (2011-First); Austin Neu, Sr., QB (2011-Honorable); Paul Santi, Sr., OL (2011-Second); Joel Sweeney, Jr., RB (2010-Second); Kyle Thorpe, Sr., DB (2010-Honorable)

UW-La Crosse

Head Coach: Joel Dettwiler; 2nd season at UWL; 3-7
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 20/5
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 16/10
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/1
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 9/2
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 5/6
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 1/1
Returning All-WIAC: Tony Bilderback, Jr., WR (2011-Honorable); Christian Hallingstad, Sr., K/P (2011-First); Ben Hertrampf, Jr., RB (2011-First); Jack Leahy, Sr., LB (2011-Second); Ben Pagel, Sr., OL (2011-Second); Ross Schulz, Sr., OL (2011-Honorable)

UW-Oshkosh

Head Coach: Pat Cerroni; 6th season at UWO; 26-23
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 15/11
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 18/13
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/1
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 5/6
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 5/6
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 1/1
Returning All-WIAC: Taylor Goodman, Sr., LB (2011-First); Cole Myhra, Jr., RB (2011-Second); Brandon Peter, Sr., OT (2011-Honorable); Andrew Thompson, Sr., DE (2011-Second); Caleb Voss, Jr., WR (2011-Honorable); Nate Wara, Sr., QB (2010-Second, 2011-Second)

UW-Platteville

Head Coach: Mike Emendorfer; 14th season at UWP; 49-80
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 40/7
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 30/7
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/1
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 8/3
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 9/3
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 1/1
Returning All-WIAC: Nick Anderson, Sr., QB (2010-Honorable); Colton Friemuth, Sr., OL (2011-Second); Zach Litchfield, Jr., K (2011-Second); Corey Marks, Sr., DL (2010-First, 2011-First); Ryan McWethy, Sr., DB (2011-First); Nick Snyder, Sr., LB (2010-Honorable, 2011-First); Lee Vlasak, Sr., RB (2010-Second); Jacob Zilbar, So., LB (2011-Honorable)

UW-River Falls

Head Coach: Matt Walker; 5th season (2nd at UWRF); 23-17 (overall) / 1-9 (UWRF)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 33/14
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 33/8
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/0
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 6/5
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 8/3
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/0
Returning All-WIAC: Nate Smits, Sr., LB (2011-Honorable); John Wahlstrom, Sr., WR (2011-Honorable)

UW-Stevens Point

Head Coach: Tom Journell; 4th season (1st at UWSP); 22-18 (overall)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 23/23
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 38/11
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/1
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 5/6
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 6/5
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 1/1
Returning All-WIAC: Colton Zimmerman, Sr., DB (2010-Honorable, 2011-Honorable)

UW-Stout

Head Coach: Clayt Birmingham; 3rd season at UWS; 11-9
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 21/7
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 21/7
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/0
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 7/4
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 5/6
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/0
Returning All-WIAC: Eric Brown, Sr., RB (2011-Second); Joe Gerber, Sr., OL (2011-Honorable); David Goebel, Jr., FB (2011-Honorable); Ricky Marteney, Jr., K (2010-Second); Josh Peterson, Sr., TE (2011-Honorable)

UW-Whitewater

Head Coach: Lance Leipold; 6th season at UWW; 72-3
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 41/7
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 39/10
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 3/1
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 6/5
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 7/5
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 1/1
Returning All-WIAC: Ryan Cortez, Jr., LB (2011-Second); Jake Hohlstein, Sr., DL (2011-Second); Tyler Huber, Sr., WR (2011-First); Eric Kindler, Jr., K (2011-First); Bernie Tamsett, Sr., FB (2011-Honorable); Noah Timm, Sr., DB (2011-First); Ryan Wenkman, Sr., DB (2011-Second)

COURTESY WIAC


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