Warhawks ready for Friday Night Lights
The UW-Whitewater football team crammed its typical first two days of game preparation into one.
On Friday, the Warhawks will cram right up until game time.
Whitewater hosts UW-Eau Claire in a rare Friday night Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game under the lights at Perkins Stadium.
“You want to keep your players in a routine, and you kind of break the routine,” Warhawks coach Lance Leipold said. “Most of it's at the beginning of the week. You have to jam what you normally do on Sunday and Monday into Sunday.
“Then, the day of the game is a school day, so they'll go to class and that sort of thing. Those are probably the two biggest differences.”
On the other hand, it gives players a chance to play a night game, which Leipold said his players are excited about.
In the past, Whitewater has asked for a road game for the third week in October, to avoid conflicts with the traditional Wisconsin School Music Associaton's state marching band tournament which takes place at UW-W.
“We gave Friday night a try two years ago and felt it had some positives,” Leipold said. “I'm not really sure where it's going in the future, but we'll see.”
This week, the Warhawks (5-0, 2-0 WIAC) have had a short week to prepare for the physical Blugolds (0-5, 0-2).
Eau Claire is winless, but will be playing its fourth ranked team in six weeks and lost by six points to UW-Stevens Point—a team receiving poll votes—on Saturday. The Blugolds have three losses that came by six points or less.
“They've probably played the most difficult schedule in the conference,” Leipold said.
Eau Claire is led by senior running back Joel Sweeney, who leads the conference in rushing. He's averaging more than 132 yards per game and has scored six touchdowns.
“He's got a lot of experience and is tough to bring down,” Leipold said. “They have a big offensive line in front of him. Controlling him is a big part of it. Their play-action game becomes more efficient when they can run.”
The Warhawks will challenge him with the league's top defense.
They lead the WIAC in scoring (7.4 points allowed per game), total (208.2 yards) and passing (128.6) defense.
The Warhawks are expected to be without dynamic receiver Tyler Huber, as well as running backs Nick Patterson and Dennis Moore, due to injuries.
It's their final game before beginning a three-week gauntlet against the other top contenders for the conference title—Oshkosh, Platteville and Stevens Point—though Leipold says the short week hasn't allowed anyone to look ahead.
“I hope in the short week we've been able to keep them focused,” he said. “I think our guys have learned you have to take it a week at a time.”
Even when that week is a little shorter than normal.