Warhawks host Platteville in battle of unbeatens
WHITEWATER--Mix two undefeated ranked teams, Homecoming and Hall of Fame days and a forecast of a partly-sunny day with a high of 46, and what do you get?
The answer is very likely a crowd of more than 10,000 at Perkins Stadium here Saturday afternoon.
“The Perk” will be the site of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference first-place football showdown between UW-Platteville (4-0 in WIAC, 7-0 overall) and UW-Whitewater (4-0, 7-0).
The Warhawks are ranked fifth in the National Football Coaches Association poll and sixth in the D3football.com poll. The Pioneers rank seventh and eighth in those polls.
The Pioneers feature a spread offense that is averaging 46.8 points per game. Whitewater’s defense has allowed an average of just 7.3 points per game and is ranked No. 2 in NCAA Division III.
The Warhawks’ pass defense and pass-rush abilities will be tested against the John Kelly-led Pioneer offense. Kelly has thrown for 2,121 yards, averaging 303 yards per game. His 27 touchdown passes is third-most in Division III.
The quick-timing Pioneer offense can be aggravating for pass rushers.
“There won’t be any frustration because if he gets the ball out, we’re pursuing,” Warhawk senior pass-rushing end Lou Minett said. “Hoping our secondary makes big plays.”
Minett says it will be up to the secondary and linebackers to cover the Pioneer receivers and give the pass rushers a shot at getting to Kelly.
“We just have the mentality that we’re going to get there at some point,” Minett said. “He can’t hold that ball 2.4 seconds every time. Might be a couple times when he throws it three seconds.”
“One of the times he has to slip up,” Minett said, grinning. “He’s going to drop back too far. Something’s got to give, that’s what we’re saying.”
The Warhawks have been no slouch on offense, averaging 42.6 points a game despite an offensive line that features one junior, three sophomores and a freshman.
The Pioneer defense has allowed an average of 23.9 points.
The Warhawks are plus-16 in turnover differential, while the Pioneers are plus-6.
Last season, the Warhawks’ showdown game against eventual conference champion UW-Oshkosh drew a Perkins Stadium and WIAC record crowd of 12,318.
That record is in jeopardy Saturday.