/playoffs/2012/last-wara-lifts-oshkosh

Last Wara brother lifts Oshkosh

More news about: UW-Oshkosh
Nate Wara is the last of his brothers to play football at UW-Oshkosh and has helped the Titans have the most success.
Photo by Larry Radloff, csssaints.com
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By Andrew Wagner
for D3sports.com

OSHKOSH, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh had accomplished very little in the sport of football in the decades before Nate Wara arrived on campus, but nonetheless, Wara had some big shoes to fill, even before taking his first snap as the Titans’ quarterback.

Wara is the fourth member of his family to wear the Titans’ black and gold, following his oldest brother, Nick, who was Oshkosh’s quarterback from 2001-04. Josh Wara was a safety for the Titans while Justin played receiver.

“Yeah ... We’ve been here for a while,” Wara said with a laugh earlier this season.

The three Wara boys – and their sister – knew early on that there was something special about Nate, whose competitive nature was apparent from an early age.

“He works extremely hard,” said Nick Wara. “He’s always been ultra-competitive and the kind of person that pushes everyone around him to work as hard as he does.”

Despite the family tradition, Wara wasn’t sure he’d stay in town after playing four years at Oshkosh North High School where he threw for 3,075 yards and 28 touchdowns in three seasons as a starter.

After leading the Spartans to an 8-3 record as a junior, averaging 134 passing and 59 rushing yards per game, he threw for 1,404 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior, attracting interest from some Division II schools, including North Dakota State (since moved to Division I FCS) and Mankato State in Minnesota.

He also briefly considered walking on at Wisconsin.

Wara’s brothers stayed out of the recruiting process, offering input when asked, but tried not to steer him in any direction.

“We wanted him to make his own decision,” Nick Wara said. “We gave him our feedback if he asked, but we wanted Nate to make decision that was best for him.”

The decision turned out to be Oshkosh and Cerroni, then entering his third season at the helm and spent the previous six as defensive coordinator, couldn’t have been happier.

“I really enjoyed coaching his older brothers, but I didn’t expect Nate to come here,” Cerroni said. “It ended up working out.”

The Titans struggled during Wara’s first two seasons, posting consecutive 4-6 records while going a combined 5-9 in the WIAC. But behind Wara’s 1,838 passing yards and 18 touchdown throws, Oshkosh finished 7-3 overall last season while going 5-2 in the league to finish second in the conference.

“We were a .500 ball club and begging him to stay with us, stick with the plan and trust us that it will work out," Cerroni said. "Two years ago, that was a hard sell. That’s the most gratifying thing. You make those claims behind closed doors and now you’re seeing it come through.”

With 1,284 yards rushing this season, junior Cole Myhra, above, has taken some carries away from Nate Wara, who used to run more often earlier in his career.
Photo by Larry Radloff, csssaints.com

While the Titans were experiencing growing pains on the field, Wara was growing – mentally and physically – off the field. Where Wara was a football player when he arrived on campus, he admitted there was still plenty to learn.

“I guess you could say I’ve learned the game of football,” Wara said. “These coaches have taught me a lot.”

Wara has full command of the Titans’ offense, the 10th-best unit in the nation this season entering the playoffs. A dual-threat quarterback, Wara is just as dangerous with his feet as he is with his arm and though the coaches have given him freedom to make decisions on the fly, he's mature enough now to know when to run and when to stay put.

"If I see a hole, I’ll take it," Wara said. "The coaches give me the freedom to check out of a few things and if it’s wide open, I’ll take off. But if it’s not something consistent, I’ll stay with it."

During the regular season, Wara completed 166 of 252 attempts (65.9 percent) for 2,389 yards with 22 touchdowns and just one interception; good for a 173.5 passer rating, the seventh-best in all of Division III.

In his four years at Oshkosh, Wara has made 41 consecutive starts, throwing for 8,146 yards (second in school history) and 75 touchdowns (sixth in school history) and he entered the postseason with a career passer rating of 147.9, setting a program record.

He’s written his way into the WIAC record books as well, entering the playoffs among the all-time top ten in completions (fifth, 678), touchdowns (fifth), passing yards (ninth), pass attempts (tenth, 1,047) and passer rating (third).

“He’s just an outstanding quarterback,” UW-Whitewater coach Lance Leipold said. “He’s a difference-maker whether he’s throwing or running but his strength and ability to keep plays alive and either take off on his own or put the ball right on the money, it’s what makes that offense go.”

Nate Wara ran for a season-high 128 yards Saturday in UWO's win against St. Scholastica.
Photo by Larry Radloff, csssaints.com

Wara was also a threat with his feet, rushing 129 times for 561 yards and seven touchdowns, leading his team to a perfect 10-0 record and their first WIAC championship since 1976. He then added 12 carries for 128 yards in a first-round playoff win.

Those gaudy numbers, however, don’t completely tell the full story.

“He’s probably the biggest competitor you’ll ever meet,” said his coach, Pat Cerroni. “He’s just so talented.”

His maturity was readily evident in the Titans’ upset of then-No. 5 UW-Whitewater. After jumping out to a 21-0 lead, Wara kept his team on task as the Warhawks rallied back in the third quarter and forced the Titans into a string of frustrating three-and-outs.

“Maybe a younger Nate might have panicked a bit or complained a little, but older and wiser, he’s been through it before,” Cerroni said.

Wara was steady and calm in the huddle and on the sideline and stomped out any hope of a Whitewater comeback midway through the fourth quarter when he connected with Cory Wipperfurth on a 40-yard strike, setting the stage for Cole Myhra’s 1-yard touchdown run that made it a 28-13 game with just under 7 minutes to play.

“It’s my job to keep them up,” Wara said. “I can’t be yelling at them. I have to stay calm and when things go bad, I can’t just yell and scream about it. We knew they were going to come out and hit us in the mouth. But we just had to keep going with it and do what we do.”

His performance against the Warhawks, winners of the last three national championships, left Leipold impressed.

“That was his experience showing,” Leipold said. “He’s been through the league. He’s gone against good teams. You can just tell he’s got that ‘it’ factor; that moxie as a quarterback.”

A week later at UW-La Crosse, where Oshkosh hadn’t won since the Lyndon Johnson administration, Wara was superb again, completing 20 of 30 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns in the Titans’ 41-7 victory.

“He’s the best quarterback I’ve ever seen,” said senior receiver Caleb Voss, who led the team with 44 receptions, 908 yards and nine touchdowns. “He makes the most out of every play”

Watching Wara play has been a treat for Cerroni, who said he’s encouraged his coaches to take time to appreciate Wara’s abilities and natural talents. With the playoffs continuing Saturday against Bethel, there will be at least one more chance.

“I haven’t gone back to the bench to talk to the defense much because I want to stand there on the sideline and watch him play,” Cerroni said. “I know how special he is. You get one of those guys once in your career. I’m happy for him.”

Oct. 13: All times Eastern
Final
Bridgewater State 24, at Mass-Dartmouth 22
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 21, UW-La Crosse 14
Video Box Score Recap
Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
Salve Regina 45, at Nichols 10
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Mount Ida 14, at Dean 7
Box Score
Final
at Thomas More 59, Waynesburg 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Maine Maritime 34, Coast Guard 16
Video Box Score
Final
at Finlandia 27, Trinity Bible 21
Video Box Score
Final
Hamilton 28, at Bowdoin 7
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Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Olivet 47, Albion 26
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Wesleyan 41, Bates 23
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Union 27, at Rochester 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Amherst 40, at Colby 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Western New England 41, Endicott 14
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Plymouth State 16, Framingham State 13
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Final
at RPI 27, Ithaca 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Hobart 49, at Hartwick 27
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Ferrum 34, LaGrange 20
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Final
at Carnegie Mellon 42, Geneva 27
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Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
DePauw 26, at Denison 17
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Trine 42, Kalamazoo 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Washington and Lee 47, Guilford 26
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Husson 49, Castleton 0
Box Score Recap
Final
Gallaudet 35, at Alfred State 19
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Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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Final
Brevard 41, at Methodist 17
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Final
at Lebanon Valley 31, Stevenson 24
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Buffalo State 24, at St. Lawrence 21
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Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
Box Score Recap Live stats
Final
at Randolph-Macon 52, Emory and Henry 29
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Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hampden-Sydney 58, Apprentice 28
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Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at N.C. Wesleyan 45, Greensboro 0
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Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 49, Grove City 27
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Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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Final
at Westminster (Mo.) 56, Crown 15
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Final
at Northwestern (Minn.) 29, Iowa Wesleyan 7
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Final
at Knox 56, Grinnell 14
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Final
at Widener 31, Lycoming 17
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Final
Trinity (Conn.) 23, at Tufts 16
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount St. Joseph 66, Earlham 7
Video Box Score
Final - 2OT
Ohio Northern 27, at John Carroll 20
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Final
Baldwin Wallace 23, at Muskingum 20
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Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Final
Rose-Hulman 44, at Manchester 13
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Final
at Hanover 31, Bluffton 28
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Final
Defiance 45, at Anderson 0
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Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Final
Hiram 62, at Kenyon 56
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Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Final
Williams 27, at Middlebury 26
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Final
at Westfield State 33, Fitchburg State 21
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Final
Marietta 43, at Wilmington 33
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Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Final
Curry 40, at Becker 0
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Final
TCNJ 20, at Rowan 14
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Final
at SUNY-Maritime 51, Anna Maria 15
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Final
Salisbury 28, at Montclair State 10
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Final
at Huntingdon 28, Maryville (Tenn.) 16
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Final
at Austin 33, Millsaps 19
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Washington U. 55, Buena Vista 20
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
Alma 27, at Aurora 19
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Final
at Rockford 29, Concordia-Chicago 14
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Final
Wisconsin Lutheran 22, at Concordia (Wis.) 19
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Final
at Lakeland 57, Benedictine 21
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Final
at St. Norbert 10, Chicago 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
St. Olaf 22, at Augsburg 20
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Final
Bethel 24, at Gustavus Adolphus 3
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Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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Final
at Eureka 30, Greenville 19
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Final
Centre 27, at Trinity (Texas) 21
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Final
Dubuque 42, at Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Final
Central 30, at Coe 19
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Final
Lake Forest 56, at Cornell 28
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Final
at Carthage 31, Elmhurst 8
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Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Final
Millikin 28, at Augustana 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Ripon 52, at Beloit 28
Video Box Score
Final
MacMurray 49, at Minnesota-Morris 13
Video
Final
Macalester 21, at Lawrence 18
Video Box Score
Final
at Monmouth 59, Illinois College 14
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Final
at UW-Stevens Point 26, UW-Eau Claire 3
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Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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Final
at Wooster 38, Oberlin 28
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Final
Texas Lutheran 41, at East Texas Baptist 34
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Final
at UW-Stout 21, UW-River Falls 16
Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Final
Sewanee 34, at Birmingham-Southern 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hope 22, Adrian 3
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Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
Video Box Score
Cancelled
La Verne at Occidental
Video Live stats Audio
Final
Whitworth 17, at Pacific Lutheran 14
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Final
at Cal Lutheran 42, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 20
Video Box Score
Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
Video Video Box Score
Final
at Pacific 35, Puget Sound 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Pomona-Pitzer 45, at Whittier 23
Video Box Score
Final
at Western Connecticut 28, Massachusetts Maritime 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Scholastica 56, Martin Luther 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final - 5OT
at St. John Fisher 39, Utica 36
Video Recap Live stats Audio
Final - OT
at Heidelberg 48, Otterbein 45
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Final
at Shenandoah 38, Bridgewater 20
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Final
Southwestern 60, at Belhaven 31
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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Final
at Louisiana College 52, McMurry 34
Box Score
Final
at Simpson 38, Luther 17
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Final
at Chapman 45, Redlands 26
Video Video Box Score Recap Recap
Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Recap Box Score
Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
Box Score Recap Live stats
Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
Video Box Score
Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
Video Box Score
Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
Video Box Score
Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
Video Box Score
Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
Video Video Box Score
Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
Box Score
Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Recap Box Score