December 18, 2013

Recharged Warhawks ready to return

More news about: UW-Whitewater

Cole Klotz is the leader in the middle of the UWW defense.
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com 

By Joe Sager
for D3sports.com

Refocused, recharged and ready.

That sums up the UW-Whitewater football team this season.

One year removed from a 2012 campaign that saw the Warhawks’ 46-game winning streak snapped and the team out of the postseason with a 7-3 record, Whitewater is back in a familiar place – the Stagg Bowl. The Warhawks (14-0) meet Mount Union (14-0) on Friday at 7 p.m. in Salem, Va., for the NCAA Division III national championship.

“After a disappointing season last year, it’s good to be back,” Warhawks senior linebacker Cole Klotz said. “There’s a lot going on and it feels great. It’s been a blur. I don’t think it’s set in yet. Once we get down there, it’ll all settle in. The goal of every D-III program is to play this close to Christmas. So, we’re excited.”

It marks the eighth time in nine years the two programs battle for the national championship. Whitewater claimed four of the past seven, including titles in 2007, ’09, ’10 and ’11.

“Mount Union has been there as long as I can remember. We have been there, too, over the years,” Klotz said. “It really feels good to play them again.”

Overall, the Raiders are in the Stagg Bowl for the ninth straight season and 17th time in the last 20 years. They have won a record 11 national championships.

“That really is awesome. You have to give credit to Mount Union. They’ve been there so many years. They always give us a great matchup,” Whitewater junior quarterback Matt Behrendt said. “We love playing them in the championship. Both teams earned it, so it’s awesome we keep coming back together.

“It’s so exciting. We’ve worked so hard in the offseason and during the season. To finally get back is the main goal. We’re excited to play this Friday.”

The Warhawks are eager to make up for an uncharacteristic 2012 season. Injuries, a lack of focus and a grueling schedule spelled disaster for Whitewater last year after an unbeaten run from 2009-11.

“What we found out is that streaks can end if you don’t take care of business,” Whitewater coach Lance Leipold said. “Last year, we showed we didn’t earn our way. This year, we played some more good football programs that gave us everything we could handle.

“I don’t want to say there is just one thing that happened (last year),” he continued. “Teams are going to give you their best shot and you have to match that intensity and desire, whether in the weight room or on the field. I don’t like the word ‘complacency.’ We maybe lost our edge? Maybe, like they say, it’s tougher to stay on top than to get there.”

The Warhawks brought in some new assistant coaches and changed the duties of some others to help reignite a spark.

“It helped us, especially on offense. We have a bunch of new assistant coaches and a new offensive coordinator. They’ve come in and done an amazing job,” Behrendt said. “We still have pretty much the same offense; we just do a couple things differently. Really, we’ve blossomed as a team. I give the coaches the credit for that.”

Whitewater’s players helped make the turnaround possible, too. They used last season as a wakeup call.

“It really was a down year. That’s not how Warhawk football is. We knew we had to come in this offseason with a different attitude. We came in with more energy and excitement and a better attitude. That’s what got us to this point,” Behrendt said. “It doesn’t get handed to you. We didn’t come out last year and play like we needed to. We know that, coming into every year, everyone circles us on their calendar, especially teams in our conference. With the great conference we have, we have to earn the wins and play our best football to come out on top.”

Once again, the Warhawks’ foundation is defense. Whitewater ranks first among D-III teams in scoring defense (8.7 points allowed per game) and third in total defense (237.5 yards allowed per game).

“The defense has been outstanding the entire year. It really is awesome knowing that, when they are out there, we will get great field position,” Behrendt said. “On offense, we know we have to do our job and score points. It’s awesome watching the defense and knowing they will get the job done and we’ll get the job done for them also.”

Klotz knows it works both ways. He’s happy to see the Warhawks’ young offense improve.

“Both offensively and defensively, we do rely on each other. It’s great being able to trust our offense to put us in a position to play our best and we can put them in position to do their best. We’ve been doing a good job all year on both sides of the ball. It’s been great.”

Whitewater’s defense faces another formidable test this week. Mount Union owns D-III’s top scoring offense (49.0 points per game).

“For the past two weeks, we’ve played two of the highest-scoring offenses in the nation (Linfield and Mary Hardin-Baylor),” Klotz said. “They all run similar zone read-type schemes. We just have to focus on doing our jobs. Hopefully, we will be able to pull it off again.”

The Warhawks hope to get off to a better start this week. They trailed at halftime in their last two battles and rallied for victory.

“It’s a spot we don’t like to be in. We know we have to do a lot better job this week,” Behrendt said. “We know what Mount can do on offense. We’ll have to pick it up a notch in the first half and really come out fast and try to put up as many points as we can.”

After sitting out last year’s playoffs, Whitewater is raring to go. 

Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
Video
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Belhaven at Millsaps
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
Video Audio
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Live Stats
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
12:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Kean at Christopher Newport
1:00 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
Audio
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
Audio
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
Video Audio
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
Audio
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
Audio
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
Video Audio Audio
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Video Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
McPherson at Nebraska Wesleyan
Live Stats
4:00 PM
UW-Platteville at George Fox
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Video Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
Video Live Stats
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Video Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Denison at Marietta
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
Video Live Stats
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Video Live Stats Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
8:30 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
Video
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
Live Stats
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
4:00 PM
UW-Platteville at George Fox
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Video Live Stats
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Live Stats
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats