/playoffs/2017/uw-oshkosh-return

Reloaded Titans eager for a return to Salem

More news about: UW-Oshkosh
When the line can open up holes like this for Dylan Hecker, the Titans are nearly impossible to beat.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com


By Andrew Wagner
For D3football.com

For the third straight season, UW-Oshkosh is playing deep into the postseason and while the experience itself is fulfilling, the ancillary benefits a lengthy playoff run provides have laid the foundation for long-term success.

With extra games come extra practice sessions and that's where the Titans have turned themselves from an impressive collection of talent into a legitimate national power.

"I don't think enough can be said about the extra weeks of practice," says head coach Pat Cerroni. "We've done it now for three years. Just like Whitewater did. You're literally getting an extra season over every two years. I think that's the valuable thing about it. Every week coming in here and getting guys reps and all of a sudden, they start believing in the things you're teaching. That's really the gist of if. It's been a great run."

The run continues Saturday against 12-time national champion Mount Union, which visits Oshkosh with a Stagg Bowl berth on the line.

Getting to the semifinal for a second consecutive season isn't surprising to Cerroni, though it certainly wasn't expected. After going 13-2 a year ago and falling 10-7 to Mary Hardin-Baylor in the Stagg Bowl, the Titans returned 41 of 66 letter-winners including nine offensive starters, but brought back just one starter on defense.

"I didn't expect this at all this year," Cerroni admits. "I knew our offense was going to be good but defensively didn't think we'd meet the standards, but we've done a great job. We've gotten stops when we've needed them and our offense is performing at a very high level. It's been very unexpected."

The defensive unit hasn't put up the flashiest of numbers but is 25th in the nation in scoring, holding opponents to 15.3 points per game.

"Last year's (defense) was a completely different group," says senior linebacker Jon Kallas. "So we have had to scheme based on the personnel that we have. Some things we don't do quite as well as last year and some things we do even better. The cool thing about our group this year is that we are so young and new as a whole that every game we get to know each other and ourselves a little more and are still getting even better."

On the offensive side, the Titans have been a juggernaut. They've averaged 41.9 points and 485.8 yards per game, good for 10th and 12th, respectively, in the nation, and are in the top-20 nationally with 245 rushing yards per game.

Senior Dylan Hecker has anchored that attack, rushing for 896 yards and 15 touchdowns, and senior quarterback Brett Kasper was named one of four finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy after completing 169 of 254 passes for 2,728 yards with a 195.2 passer rating.

But neither of those players would be enjoying that level of success if it weren't for a dominant offensive line, which Cerroni points to as the foundation for Oshkosh's success this season.

"They are dominant right now," Cerroni says. "Alex Wipperfurth was recruited here as a defensive lineman and a we switched him a year ago, has blossomed into one heck of a player. We've got Alex Wendorf, the Summers brothers -- Austin and Ty -- Ty Powers. These guys are really good and they're fun to watch. Having an offensive line that is championship caliber is really making this run special."

Preventing Hecker from getting the ball in space is every UW-Oshkosh opponent's objective. 
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com


The run has included victories in 37 of the Titans' last 41 games, knocking off some of D-III football's blue bloods along the way.

"What I'm most proud of right now is we've beaten a lot of good football teams in the last year," Cerroni says. "St. Thomas. St. John's. North Central. Wartburg. We've beaten the teams that are up there in the standings every year.

"We haven't beaten Mary Hardin-Baylor and we haven't beaten Mount Union ... but that wish is coming true right now."

Indeed the Purple Raiders are next on the list and pose a big challenge for the Titans, who fell in non-conference meetings with Mount Union in 2010 and 2011.

"Mount Union is a good, good football team," Cerroni says. "They're extremely talented. They're very well-coached and they have some incredible talent to boot. They do some really nice things. It's going to be interesting.

"You can get wrapped up on all the fluff but at the end of the day, you better go out and get aligned, block the right people and be sound. The ball has to bounce your way at this level. At this point, you still have to get lucky, too. That's what we're going to do. We're going to line up and play this team Saturday. I've got a lot of respect for Vince [Kehres] and his father and what they've done there."

The task is a big one but regardless of what happens Saturday, the extra work the Titans have put in over the last few weeks will pay dividends when training camp kicks off again next fall.

Oct. 19: All times Eastern
Final
Martin Luther 21, at Northwestern (Minn.) 6
Video Box Score Recap
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at Stevenson 33, Wilkes 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at RPI 31, Hobart 24
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at MIT 13, Coast Guard 0
Video Box Score
Final
Norwich 15, at Maine Maritime 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Moravian 31, Juniata 14
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Dean 53, Gallaudet 21
Video Box Score
Final
Endicott 45, at Becker 13
Video Video Box Score
Final
Frostburg State 24, at Montclair State 17
Video Box Score Recap
Final
SUNY-Maritime 68, at Castleton 41
Video Box Score
Final
at Trinity (Texas) 28, Sewanee 14
Video Box Score
Final
Johns Hopkins 51, at Gettysburg 14
Video Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
N.C. Wesleyan 29, at Brevard 21
Video Box Score
Final
at Misericordia 37, FDU-Florham 33
Video
Final
Union 29, at St. Lawrence 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Ithaca 28, Rochester 3
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Colby 23, Hamilton 21
Video Box Score
Final
at Middlebury 35, Bates 34
Video Box Score
Final
Trinity (Conn.) 48, at Bowdoin 6
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Springfield 23, at Catholic 11
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Amherst 33, at Wesleyan 3
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Plymouth State 17, Massachusetts Maritime 14
Video Box Score
Final
at Husson 54, Anna Maria 14
Box Score
Final
TCNJ 13, at Kean 8
Video Box Score
Final
Carnegie Mellon 41, at Thiel 7
Video Box Score
Final
Salve Regina 30, at Curry 21
Video Box Score
Final
King's 37, at Albright 26
Video Box Score
Final
Trine 31, at Finlandia 0
Video Box Score
Final - OT
Susquehanna 41, at Ursinus 35
Video Video Box Score
Final
Delaware Valley 52, at Lebanon Valley 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Western New England 70, University of New England 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Franklin and Marshall 35, at Dickinson 14
Video Video Box Score
Final
at Wittenberg 38, DePauw 23
Box Score
Final
at Emory and Henry 52, Shenandoah 50
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wabash 32, Oberlin 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 27, Washington and Jefferson 20
Video
Final
at Hampden-Sydney 38, Guilford 35
Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Randolph-Macon 44, Bridgewater 41
Video Box Score Recap Audio Audio
Final
Cortland 56, at Hartwick 3
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Denison 27, Ohio Wesleyan 10
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Waynesburg 12, at St. Vincent 10
Video
Final
Salisbury 33, at Southern Virginia 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Methodist 42, Greensboro 6
Video Box Score
Final
Christopher Newport 39, at William Paterson 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Albion 49, at Adrian 42
Video Box Score
Final
Thomas More 35, at St. Scholastica 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Westminster (Mo.) 25, Minnesota-Morris 7
Video Box Score
Final
Lake Forest 24, at Grinnell 0
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Greenville 41, Crown 14
Video Box Score
Final
at Merchant Marine 25, WPI 24
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at John Carroll 27, Marietta 24
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Tufts 28, Williams 21
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Ohio Northern 49, at Capital 46
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Baldwin Wallace 35, at Wilmington 33
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Mount Union 54, Heidelberg 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Lycoming 52, Alvernia 0
Video
Final
at Rose-Hulman 44, Anderson 6
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Franklin 64, Earlham 20
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Hanover 48, at Manchester 14
Video
Final
Mount St. Joseph 20, at Defiance 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Utica 30, Alfred 22
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Maryville (Tenn.) 37, at LaGrange 17
Video Box Score
Final
Framingham State 27, at Westfield State 2
Video Box Score
Final
Morrisville State 35, at St. John Fisher 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Muskingum 21, Otterbein 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final - OT
at Berry 28, Millsaps 21
Video Box Score Recap Live stats Audio
Final
at Muhlenberg 42, McDaniel 18
Video Video Box Score
Final
at Rowan 28, Wesley 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Wooster 28, Hiram 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Allegheny 54, at Kenyon 10
Video Box Score
Final
at Nebraska Wesleyan 23, Luther 15
Video
Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 20, at Augustana 3
Video
Final
at Eureka 50, Benedictine 20
Video Box Score
Final
Mary Hardin-Baylor 49, at Belhaven 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 58, Texas Lutheran 14
Box Score
Final
Chicago 63, at Beloit 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Concordia (Wis.) 45, Concordia-Chicago 34
Video Box Score
Final
Aurora 25, at Rockford 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Bethel 41, Concordia-Moorhead 13
Box Score
Final
Lakeland 38, at Wisconsin Lutheran 12
Video Box Score
Final
at St. John's 57, St. Olaf 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Gustavus Adolphus 42, Augsburg 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Dubuque 38, at Buena Vista 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
North Central (Ill.) 26, at Carthage 14
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Ripon 58, Macalester 34
Video Box Score
Final
at Monmouth 51, Cornell 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Simpson 38, Loras 33
Video Box Score
Final
at Knox 20, Illinois College 6
Video
Final
UW-Stout 31, at UW-Stevens Point 27
Video
Final
Millikin 14, at Elmhurst 13
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at MacMurray 20, Iowa Wesleyan 13
Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Eau Claire 40, at UW-Platteville 16
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at St. Thomas 68, Carleton 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mass-Dartmouth 41, Worcester State 27
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wartburg 47, Central 20
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Oshkosh 24, UW-La Crosse 13
Video Box Score
Final
at UW-Whitewater 44, UW-River Falls 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Birmingham-Southern 47, Austin 35
Video Box Score
Final
Centre 41, at Rhodes 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Carroll 23, North Park 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Kalamazoo 17, Alma 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Pacific Lutheran 33, Willamette 20
Video Box Score
Final
at Brockport 65, Buffalo State 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Averett 45, Huntingdon 17
Video Video Box Score
Final
Washington and Lee 38, at Ferrum 35
Video Box Score
Final
at Pacific 54, Lewis and Clark 22
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
Redlands 35, at La Verne 17
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Whitworth 47, at Puget Sound 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 27, at Occidental 7
Video Box Score
Final
Linfield 14, at George Fox 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hope 35, Olivet 30
Video Recap Box Score Photos
Final - 4OT
at Western Connecticut 50, Bridgewater State 48
Video Box Score Live stats
Final
Case Western Reserve 27, at Geneva 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Sul Ross State 28, Howard Payne 27
Video
Final
East Texas Baptist 48, at Louisiana College 27
Video
Final
Illinois Wesleyan 27, at Washington U. 21
Video Box Score Photos
Final
St. Norbert 46, at Lawrence 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Pomona-Pitzer 42, Whittier 17
Video Box Score
Final
Chapman 33, at Cal Lutheran 29
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
Frostburg State 24, at Montclair State 17
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at RPI 31, Hobart 24
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Trine 31, at Finlandia 0
Box Score Video
Final
at Wittenberg 38, DePauw 23
Box Score
Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 27, Washington and Jefferson 20
Video
Final
Delaware Valley 52, at Lebanon Valley 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Johns Hopkins 51, at Gettysburg 14
Video Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Mount Union 54, Heidelberg 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at John Carroll 27, Marietta 24
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final - OT
at Berry 28, Millsaps 21
Video Box Score Recap Live stats Audio
Final
at Rowan 28, Wesley 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Muhlenberg 42, McDaniel 18
Video Video Box Score
Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 20, at Augustana 3
Video
Final
Mary Hardin-Baylor 49, at Belhaven 0
Video Box Score
Final
at St. John's 57, St. Olaf 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 58, Texas Lutheran 14
Box Score
Final
North Central (Ill.) 26, at Carthage 14
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at St. Thomas 68, Carleton 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Oshkosh 24, UW-La Crosse 13
Video Box Score
Final
at UW-Whitewater 44, UW-River Falls 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Brockport 65, Buffalo State 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Whitworth 47, at Puget Sound 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Linfield 14, at George Fox 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Case Western Reserve 27, at Geneva 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Illinois Wesleyan 27, at Washington U. 21
Video Box Score Photos