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. 24: All times Eastern
Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
Box Score Recap
Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Massachusetts Maritime 32, Worcester State 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at Endicott 37, Nichols 0
Box Score Recap
Final
MIT 30, at Maine Maritime 13
Box Score
Final
at Buffalo State 40, Morrisville State 24
Box Score Recap
Final
at Salve Regina 48, Coast Guard 10
Box Score
Final
St. Lawrence 20, at RPI 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at Framingham State 23, Western Connecticut 17
Box Score
Final
at Montclair State 21, Rowan 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
Box Score Recap
Final
at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Bates 7
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Western New England 59, Curry 28
Box Score
Final
at Utica 24, Cortland 13
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Colby 9, at Williams 7
Box Score Photos
Final
at Middlebury 40, Bowdoin 3
Box Score
Final
at Amherst 34, Hamilton 0
Box Score
Final
Kean 24, at William Paterson 13
Box Score Recap
Final
at DePauw 66, Hiram 17
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Franklin and Marshall 45, at Juniata 22
Box Score
Final
at Kenyon 31, Allegheny 7
Box Score
Final
Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
Box Score
Final
Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
Lycoming 28, at Misericordia 24
Box Score
Final
at Plymouth State 30, Mass-Dartmouth 14
Box Score
Final
at Husson 35, Alfred State 0
Box Score
Final
at Springfield 28, WPI 23
Box Score Recap
Final
at Moravian 24, Dickinson 10
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Denison 45, Wooster 7
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
Box Score
Final
at St. Vincent 57, Grove City 32
Box Score Recap
Final
at Susquehanna 55, Gettysburg 40
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at King's 21, Lebanon Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Alfred 20, Ithaca 6
Box Score Recap
Final
at Widener 25, Wilkes 23
Final
at McDaniel 30, Ursinus 27
Box Score Recap
Final
at Muskingum 28, Marietta 10
Box Score Photos
Final
at Minnesota-Morris 28, Iowa Wesleyan 27
Final
at John Carroll 42, Heidelberg 14
Box Score
Final
Ohio Northern 16, at Otterbein 10
Box Score Photos
Final
Case Western Reserve 35, at Waynesburg 7
Box Score
Final
at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Rose-Hulman 23, at Defiance 15
Box Score
Final
at Centre 49, Chicago 27
Box Score
Final
at Mount St. Joseph 38, Manchester 19
Box Score Recap
Final
Hanover 49, at Anderson 25
Box Score
Final
at Merchant Marine 55, Rochester 7
Box Score
Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
Box Score Recap
Final
Concordia-Chicago 42, at Maranatha Baptist 10
Box Score Photos
Final
Washington U. 36, at Birmingham-Southern 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
Box Score
Final
at Northwestern (Minn.) 38, Martin Luther 20
Box Score
Final
at Eureka 28, MacMurray 13
Box Score
Final
at Westminster (Mo.) 35, Greenville 14
Box Score
Final
Dubuque 30, at Luther 17
Box Score Recap
Final
Monmouth 52, at Lake Forest 6
Box Score Photos
Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Augsburg 49, Carleton 17
Box Score Photos
Final
Bethel 44, at St. Olaf 7
Box Score
Final
at Hamline 42, Gustavus Adolphus 40
Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
Box Score Photos
Final
at UW-River Falls 42, Southwestern 22
Box Score Photos
Final
Simpson 17, at Buena Vista 9
Box Score
Final
at St. Scholastica 49, Crown 13
Box Score Recap
Final
Cornell 46, at Beloit 41
Box Score
Final
at Carthage 27, Augustana 24
Final
Coe 48, at Nebraska Wesleyan 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Wartburg 56, Finlandia 0
Box Score
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
Box Score Recap
Final
Hendrix 42, at Millsaps 14
Box Score
Final
Illinois Wesleyan 45, at North Park 10
Final
at Macalester 34, Grinnell 0
Box Score
Final
at Ripon 33, Knox 19
Final
Illinois College 40, at Lawrence 15
Final
UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
Box Score
Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
Box Score Recap
Final
at Geneva 35, Thiel 27
Box Score
Final
UW-Eau Claire 40, at Wisconsin Lutheran 14
Box Score
Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Stevens Point 44, at Adrian 19
Box Score
Final
UW-La Crosse 41, at Carroll 7
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Berry 41, Sewanee 3
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
Westminster (Pa.) 38, at Bethany 9
Box Score
Final
Ohio Wesleyan 29, at Oberlin 16
Box Score
Final
at Tufts 17, Wesleyan 14
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Capital 35, Wilmington 21
Box Score
Final
at Southwestern Assemblies 23, Austin 17
Box Score Photos
Cancelled
Langston at McMurry
Video Live Stats
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at Chapman 19, Trinity (Texas) 17
Box Score Recap
Sep. 29: All times Eastern
6:30 PM
Randolph-Macon at Shenandoah
Live Stats
Sep. 30: All times Eastern
6:30 PM
Emory and Henry at Washington and Lee
Video Live Stats Audio Audio
Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
Box Score Recap
Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
Box Score
Final
Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
Box Score
Final
Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Utica 24, Cortland 13
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
Box Score Recap
Final
at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
Box Score Recap
Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
Box Score Photos
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
Box Score
Final
UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
Box Score
Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
Box Score Recap
Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
Box Score Recap