Football prepares for powerhouse UW-Whitewater
Athletics - posted on 11/18/2009
The Lakeland football team opens the 2009 NCAA Division III Playoffs at No. 2 UW-Whitewater this Saturday, Nov. 21, at 12 p.m.
The Muskies (6-4) wrapped up the Northern Athletics Conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAAs after Concordia Chicago, which held the head-to-head tiebreaker on the Muskies for the NCAA berth, was defeated by Benedictine, 15-14. Lakeland wrapped up a 28-0 home victory over Aurora just 30 minutes before the CUC game was decided.
The on-field pandemonium and celebration that ensued would be short-lived for Lakeland, however. The Muskies learned on Sunday they would be facing the Warhawks (10-0), who have appeared in the last four national championship contests, winning the Stagg Bowl in 2007.
Most of the Muskies' senior class was on the roster when the team suffered back-to-back losses to Whitewater in the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Seniors Blaine Hornes, Josh Gordon and Eric Panske were also members of the team when it was defeated at home by the Warhawks in 2005.
Hornes (Neenah, Wis.) is the lone player on the Lakeland roster who appeared in the program's only other NCAA Tournament appearance, a 49-22 loss at Augustana (Ill.) in 2005.
"The experience is what it's all about," Hornes said. "It's a different atmosphere and a big crowd. I expect it to be even bigger this time, so we have to get over the 'wow' factor and keep our emotions in check."
This week, players and coaches have stressed the need to "do us," which, according to Hornes, has been the team's motto for the last three weeks of the season.
Junior quarterback Jake Dworak (Denmark, Wis.), who leads the NAC's No. 2 scoring offense, stressed mixing in the running game with the high-octane passing attack.
"We need to have more balance running and throwing the ball," Dworak said. "If one is not working, we have to try not to call plays one-sided. More things will open up if we keep some balance."
The Lakeland defense, which has three shutouts this season and has allowed just 30 points in the last four games, will be challenged by a formidable Whitewater offense.
"We have to make our plays, and everyone has to do their job," Hornes said. "We have to compete and keep our heads up. If they are driving on us, hopefully we can counter."
The Scouting Report: UW-Whitewater
The Warhawks won their fifth consecutive Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) title with a 58-21 victory at UW-La Crosse. Running back Levell Coppage rushed for 144 yards and two scores, while wide receiver Jordan Wells caught a pair of touchdowns.
Whitewater's offense, which has not scored fewer than 35 points this season, ranks in the top 10 in the nation in scoring offense (42.6 points per game), total offense (500.6 yards per game), passing efficiency and sacks allowed.
Coppage, who has 1,434 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2009, leads the WIAC and ranks fourth in the nation in rushing.
"UW-Whitewater has a very fine-tuned offense," Lakeland coach Kevin Doherty said. "Coppage is averaging seven yards per carry and about 200 yards per game, which says a lot considering the league they play in. We have to make him earn it, be disciplined and make no mistakes."
Quarterback Jeff Donovan racked up 2,447 passing yards and 20 touchdowns to just four interceptions this season.
Whitewater receivers Adam Brandes, Jordan Wells and Aaron Rusch each have over 600 yards and at least five touchdowns apiece.
"Donovan is real big and makes great decisions," Doherty said. "They are explosive and have big-play potential at wide receiver, and have a solid offensive line. They also create confusion with a lot of different formation looks, shifts and motions."
Defensively, Whitewater ranks third in scoring defense and sixth in total defense. Linebacker Kyle Supianoski leads the team with 61 tackles, while defensive back Lane Olson has 46 tackles and leads the team with 5.5 sacks.
The 21 points allowed last Saturday at La Crosse are the most surrendered by the Warhawks in one game this season. UW-Whitewater allows an average of 8.40 points per game.
"They have athletic defensive backs who will challenge our wide receivers," Doherty said. "They are athletic up front, and their linebackers are smart and disciplined. They don't run many different fronts, but they know how to play their defense."
The Warhawks lead the all-time series 6-0, defeating the Muskies, 41-7, in the last meeting between the teams on Sept. 1, 2007.
Share This Story Help
Lakeland offers links to several popular social bookmarking services. These links help you share stories with other people or create bookmarks for future reference. The services are free, but they require a personal account. Click for more information on social bookmarking
<< Return to News