August 18, 2012

Wisconsin Lutheran looks to rise to the top in 2012

More news about: Wisconsin Lutheran

MILWAUKEE - The 2012 Wisconsin Lutheran College football team has high expectations as it heads into the season and will hope to carry momentum over from a very successful 2011 campaign as they reach for new heights. Last season the Warriors finished 6-4, including a program-best 5-2 mark in conference play and ended the year with four straight wins, snapping Northern Athletics Conference champion Benedictine's 16-game conference winning streak to end the season.

With the success of last season and many returning pieces to the puzzle, WLC will be looking for its first-ever conference championship in 2012. Thirteenth-year head coach Dr. Dennis Miller sees no reason why his team can't compete for a conference championship this fall.

"I think we have consistently improved every year and I think that is a very good goal for us," Miller said, when talking about the goal of winning a conference championship. "We have high expectations for the season and the players have high expectations for the season and that's a real good combination when those two fit together."

Miller hopes that the Warriors' strong finish to the 2011 season will carry over to this year after the program-best four-game winning streak. Not only will the winning streak carry over, but the big victory over Benedictine in the final game of 2011 will also bring big momentum to the team.

"I think that momentum clearly carried over into the offseason and into recruiting for us," Miller said. "I think the win over Benedictine was a big benchmark for our program and very big for our veteran players."

Miller knows the key to reaching the ultimate goal in 2012 will be playing with consistency early and often. "Last year we got our act together mid-season and played very consistent the rest of the way," Miller said. "I think any coach will tell you what their looking for is consistency."

OFFENSE
The 2011 Wisconsin Lutheran College offense was the best in school history as the Warriors set numerous school records. With several key pieces returning to the fold, WLC may have an even bigger offensive explosion in store this fall.

"We did some really good things in 2011 and while I'm a big believer that every year is a new year, we do return a lot of key players and I see no reason why we can't pick up where we left off," Miller said.

One of the key reasons for the high expectations on offense in 2012 is the return of senior quarterback Zach Shaw (Gurnee, Ill./Warren Township). Shaw will be in his fourth year as the team's starting quarterback, something very rare in college football. Last season, Shaw threw for 1,933 yards and 15 touchdowns while adding six more rushing scores.

"This is my 25th-year of head coaching and only the second quarterback I've ever had that has been a four-year starter," Miller said. "There is no finer teacher than experience and Zach has seen a lot of different things and that helps us look forward with optimism."

Shaw will have plenty of familiar faces around him this season, including the return of three running backs that saw significant action last season. WLC did lose top running back Jesse Muldrow but returns junior Donavin Tucker (Brookfield, Wis./East), senior Taylor Pelot (Fond du Lac, Wis./Campbellsport) and sophomore Michael Reeves (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates) to the backfield this season. Tucker finished third in the NAC in rushing last season with 773 yards, including rushing for a school-record 220 yards against Rockford.

"We have three experienced, solid running backs coming back this season," said Miller. "Donavin, Taylor and Michael all have different strengths and skills and will really help our ability to run the football this season."

WLC will also feature several playmakers in the passing game this season as the Warriors return a few key players in 2012 led by senior Josh Stodola (Denmark, Wis./Denmark). Stodola caught 36 passes for 596 yards last season and finished with five touchdowns.

"Josh is one of those veterans who has a lot of playing experience," said Miller. "He has the ability to stretch the field and that will be very important to us."

The Warriors also return several other wide receivers who Miller mentioned will be able to do some dangerous things when they get the ball in their hands this year. Among those returning to the fold this season are sophomore Caleb Wolf (Cedarburg, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran), junior Matt Gordy (Macomb, Ill./Macomb), sophomores Travis Turnquist (Madison, Wis./East) and David Sell (Manawa, Wis./Manawa) and senior Jorge Mora (Milwaukee, Wis./Hamilton).

One of the biggest losses for the Warriors this season is Kinte Collins, an All-NAC performer at tight end and one of the Warriors top pass catching threats for the past four seasons. Despite the loss of Collins, Miller feels WLC still has several players who can do some great things at the tight end position this season. Senior John Klein (West Allis, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) is the leading candidate to replace him, but other players such as senior Lawrence Seymour (Palm City, Fla./South Fork) could also step into the position this season.

"John played the tight end role in some ways last year," Miller said. "Lawrence has had a really outstanding offseason and has a chance to do some great things this year as well."

An area WLC lost the most from in 2011 was on the offensive line, but the Warriors still return two players who have garnered All-NAC recognition in senior Pat Harrington (Port St. Lucie, Fla./Jensen Beach) and junior Dylan Applin (West Allis, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran).

"Those two are definitely going to have to be leaders on the offensive line because of their experience," Miller said. "They are very good players and will be counted on to lead our offensive line."

Junior Chris Klueger (Howards Grove, Wis./Howards Grove) is expected to be the team's starting center this season but WLC will still need to find two players to fill the other roles. Miller did mention he is excited for senior Devan Boling (Waukesha, Wis./South) to showcase what he can do on the offensive line after switching over from the fullback position.

"Chris is a smart player who understands the game very well," Miller said. "I think Devan has a chance to be a very good offensive lineman."

DEFENSE
At this point last season, the Warriors were not sure what to expect from the defense as they sent out a unit in game one that returned only one starter from the previous season. While the defense hit road bumps early, they responded and played an outstanding second half of the season, finishing as the third-best defense in the NAC. With the strong finish in 2011, Miller expects to see a stronger and much more confident group in 2012.

"Last year at this time there was some angst because we had one returning starter," Miller said. "By mid-season we were as good or better than anybody we were playing on the defensive side of the ball and I have high expectations for this unit."

One big reason for the high expectations this season is the return of junior middle linebacker Eric Zeitler (Waukesha, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran). Zeitler led the team with 77 tackles last season, including setting a conference and school record when he recorded 21 tackles versus Aurora.

"Eric is a special player who has great instincts," Miller said. "He is always around the ball and he makes several plays for our defense."

Zeitler will be joined by several other returning veterans at the linebacker position as senior Jim Wheeler (Crystal Falls, Mich./Forest Park) and junior Cody Thurber (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) return to the fold this season. Miller also anticipates several other players who could contribute as solid linebackers in 2012. Junior Zach Brandt (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) is one of those players Miller sees helping the defense this season.

Perhaps the biggest strength to the defense this year will be the secondary, where several players who made solid contributions last season are returning.

"The secondary is such a big deal for how many points you give up," Miller said. "Those are the big plays that have to be stopped and need to be made."

The Warriors return three outstanding safeties in seniors Tyler Schoen (Marion, Wis./Marion) and Jason Kramer (Oconomowoc, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) and junior Mitch Ronacher (Safety Harbor, Fla./Countryside). WLC also welcomes back junior starting cornerback Jordan Rabe (Oshkosh, Wis./West) while junior Richard Belsky (Cedarburg, Wis./Milwaukee Lutheran) and sophomore Josh Reznack (Hales Corners, Wis./Pius XI) are players who should contribute this season.

"Tyler, Jason and Mitch are all solid safety type players," Miller said. "Jordan plays the corner quite well and with a lot of confidence, and Richard and Josh both have a lot of upside."

The secondary should benefit by a defensive line that should provide plenty of pressure to the opposing team's quarterbacks this season. Returning to the line are sophomore edge players Josh Gordon (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast) and Sam Boyd (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage), along with senior interior linemen Dane Perlick (Oakfield, Wis./Winnebago Lutheran) and Jake Zautner (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie) and sophomore Rick Melum (Iola, Wis./Iola-Scandinavia).

"Josh and Sam are two players who will provide plenty of pressure this season," Miller said. "We also have several stout, tough guys on the inside that will create a nice blend on the defensive line."

SPECIAL TEAMS
Sophomore Brett Youngbeck (Brown Deer, Wis./Brown Deer) returns as the team's kicker this season after connecting on 32-of-37 PATs a season ago.

"We're very excited to have Brett back this season," Miller said. "He is a terrific athlete and a guy who didn't start kicking until about a week into camp last season."

Miller also noted that several freshmen should come in and compete for the kicking job and expects to see healthy competition at that position.

The Warriors also return several key players in the return game, highlighted by Tucker and Turnquist. Both players show an incredible burst of speed and Miller expects to see big things from in the return game this season.

"Donavin and Travis both have great speed and both have the ability to change the game around in the return game," Miller said.

Wisconsin Lutheran kicks off the 2012 campaign Saturday, September 1 when it travels to face Ripon in a non-conference game. The Warriors' first home game is scheduled for a week later against Olivet. WLC begins NAC play September 29 as it hosts Lakeland on Homecoming at Raabe Stadium.

comments powered by Disqus
Oct. 24: All times Eastern
Final
at Johns Hopkins 37, Gettysburg 14
Box Score Recap
Oct. 25: All times Eastern
Final
Hobart 35, at RPI 3
Box Score Recap
Final
Massachusetts Maritime 46, at Mass-Dartmouth 41
Box Score
Final
Maine Maritime 62, at Nichols 43
Box Score
Final
at Alfred 14, Frostburg State 3
Box Score Recap
Final
at Ithaca 32, Salisbury 7
Final
Framingham State 38, at Plymouth State 0
Box Score
Final
Morrisville State 47, at Southern Virginia 23
Box Score
Final
at Wesleyan 35, Bowdoin 0
Box Score
Final
Middlebury 27, at Trinity (Conn.) 7
Box Score
Final
St. John Fisher 61, at Alfred State 0
Box Score
End of OT
28 Colby
28 Bates
Preview Live Stats Video
Final
at Amherst 30, Tufts 3
HALF
40 Wesley
6 Virginia-Lynchburg
Live Stats Audio
Final
Husson 47, at Castleton State 26
Final
Williams 21, at Hamilton 14
Final
at Stevenson 57, FDU-Florham 0
Box Score
Final
DePauw 59, at Allegheny 7
Final
at Franklin and Marshall 42, Moravian 12
Box Score
Final
at Olivet 30, Kalamazoo 14
Box Score
Final
at Trine 51, Albion 45
Box Score
Final
Mount Ida 10, at Gallaudet 6
Box Score
Final
Cortland State 21, at Kean 14
Final
Wisconsin Lutheran 17, at Adrian 7
Box Score
Final
Hampden-Sydney 45, at Shenandoah 27
Box Score
Final
at Emory and Henry 62, Catholic 28
Final
Hope 33, at Alma 7
Box Score
Final
at St. Vincent 38, Carnegie Mellon 31
Final
Dickinson 33, at McDaniel 28
Final
Guilford 28, at Randolph-Macon 6
Box Score
Start of OT
36 Methodist
36 N.C. Wesleyan
Live Stats Video
Final
at Ursinus 44, Susquehanna 14
Box Score Photos
Final
at Wittenberg 49, Kenyon 7
Box Score
Final
at Montclair State 20, Rowan 16
Final
at St. Lawrence 21, Springfield 7
Final
at Delaware Valley 41, Misericordia 7
Final
at Wabash 70, Oberlin 10
Final
Hiram 35, at Ohio Wesleyan 28
Final
at Lebanon Valley 46, Wilkes 0
Final
at Muhlenberg 42, Juniata 13
Box Score
Final - OT
at Albright 24, King's 17
1:00 PM
William Paterson at TCNJ
Live Stats Audio
Final
at Millsaps 38, Sewanee 20
Box Score
4th - 02:29
14 Endicott
13 Coast Guard
Live Stats Video Audio
3rd - 12:00
7 Wilmington
68 Mount Union
Preview Live Stats Audio
Final
at John Carroll 71, Capital 7
4th - 02:19
21 Rose-Hulman
35 Franklin
Preview Preview Live Stats Video Video Audio
4th - 09:48
7 Grove City
64 Thomas More
Preview Live Stats Audio Audio
Halftime
28 Widener
10 Lycoming
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
4th - 06:27
20 Marietta
40 Heidelberg
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
1:30 PM
Rochester at Union
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
15:00 4th QT
7 Anderson
49 Mount St. Joseph
Live Stats
Final
at Bluffton 24, Manchester 16
4th - 03:49
20 Otterbein
9 Baldwin Wallace
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
Halftime
24 Utica
7 Buffalo State
Live Stats Audio
Halftime
14 Brockport State
6 Hartwick
Live Stats
4th - 04:18
6 Becker
13 SUNY-Maritime
Live Stats Live Stats Video
4th - 05:09
13 Washington and Lee
17 Bridgewater (Va.)
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
4:31 3rd
9 Case Western Reserve
27 Washington and Jefferson
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Westfield State
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
Live Stats Video
4th - 12:41
11 Concordia-Chicago
36 Benedictine
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
LaGrange at Huntingdon
Video Audio
4th Qtr - 13:32 left
0 Aurora
14 Lakeland
Live Stats Audio
3rd - 06:07
14 Berry
23 Birmingham-Southern
Live Stats Video Audio
3rd - 02:55
0 Rockford
35 Concordia (Wis.)
Live Stats Video
Halftime
10 UW-Eau Claire
10 UW-River Falls
Preview Video Audio Tickets
4th 12:46
3 Carleton
45 St. John's
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
3rd - 04:57
0 Hamline
36 Concordia-Moorhead
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Augsburg at St. Olaf
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Lake Forest at Illinois College
Video
4th - 14:53
20 Loras
10 Simpson
Preview Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Dubuque
Preview Live Stats Video
15:00 - 4th
0 Beloit
20 St. Norbert
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Carroll at Ripon
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Lawrence at Macalester
Live Stats Video Audio
HALF
45 Mary Hardin-Baylor
6 Texas Lutheran
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Augustana at Carthage
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Illinois Wesleyan
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Millikin at North Park
Audio
2:00 PM
Central at Coe
Live Stats Video Audio
HALF
0 Luther
38 Wartburg
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Cornell at Monmouth
2:00 PM
Martin Luther at Minnesota-Morris
2:00 PM
Crown at MacMurray
3rd 7:00
20 Iowa Wesleyan
38 Greenville
Halftime
7 Northwestern (Minn.)
17 Westminster (Mo.)
Video
2:00 PM
Grinnell at Knox
Live Stats Video
Halftime
0 UW-Oshkosh
17 UW-Whitewater
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at UW-Stevens Point
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Concordia (Mich.) at Maranatha Baptist
Video
05:54 3rd quarter
14 St. Thomas
21 Bethel
Live Stats Video Audio
Halftime
21 Rhodes
13 Centre
Live Stats Video Audio
Halftime
17 Defiance
14 Earlham
Live Stats
Start of 3rd
3 Washington U.
23 Chicago
Preview Preview Live Stats Video
End of 2nd
14 Norwich
6 Anna Maria
Live Stats Video
3:00 PM
UW-Platteville at UW-Stout
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
3:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Howard Payne
Live Stats Live Stats Audio Audio
1st - 10:49
0 WPI
0 Merchant Marine
Live Stats Video
4:00 PM
Linfield at Lewis and Clark
Live Stats Video Audio
4:00 PM
Willamette at Pacific Lutheran
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
4:00 PM
Redlands at La Verne
Live Stats Video Audio
4:00 PM
Puget Sound at Whitworth
Live Stats Video Audio
4:00 PM
Pacific at George Fox
Live Stats Video Audio
5:00 PM
Western New England at MIT
Live Stats Video
5:00 PM
Worcester State at Western Connecticut
Preview Live Stats
5:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Louisiana College
Audio
6:00 PM
Ferrum at Averett
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Waynesburg at Thiel
Video
7:00 PM
Muskingum at Ohio Northern
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
7:00 PM
Wooster at Denison
Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Christopher Newport
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Bethany at Geneva
8:00 PM
Eureka at St. Scholastica
Live Stats Live Stats Video
8:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Wheaton (Ill.)
Live Stats Video Audio
10:00 PM
Chapman at Cal Lutheran
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
10:00 PM
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Occidental
Live Stats Video Audio
10:00 PM
Whittier at Pomona-Pitzer
Live Stats Video
Oct. 25: All times Eastern
8:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Wheaton (Ill.)
Live Stats Video Audio
10:00 PM
Chapman at Cal Lutheran
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
4:31 3rd
9 Case Western Reserve
27 Washington and Jefferson
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
4th - 09:48
7 Grove City
64 Thomas More
Preview Live Stats Audio Audio
3rd - 12:00
7 Wilmington
68 Mount Union
Preview Live Stats Audio
Final
at John Carroll 71, Capital 7
HALF
40 Wesley
6 Virginia-Lynchburg
Live Stats Audio
Final
Hampden-Sydney 45, at Shenandoah 27
Box Score
Final
at Wabash 70, Oberlin 10
Final
St. John Fisher 61, at Alfred State 0
Box Score
Final
at Wittenberg 49, Kenyon 7
Box Score
Final
at Delaware Valley 41, Misericordia 7
3:00 PM
UW-Platteville at UW-Stout
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
05:54 3rd quarter
14 St. Thomas
21 Bethel
Live Stats Video Audio
Final
Hobart 35, at RPI 3
Box Score Recap
Halftime
0 UW-Oshkosh
17 UW-Whitewater
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
HALF
0 Luther
38 Wartburg
Live Stats Video Audio
HALF
45 Mary Hardin-Baylor
6 Texas Lutheran
Live Stats Video
3rd - 04:57
0 Hamline
36 Concordia-Moorhead
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at UW-Stevens Point
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
3rd 3:55
3 Carleton
38 St. John's
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
4:00 PM
Linfield at Lewis and Clark
Live Stats Video Audio
Oct. 24: All times Eastern
Final
at Johns Hopkins 37, Gettysburg 14
Box Score Recap

What We're Reading