Schultz plays big role in Warhawk defense
Fort Atkinson’s Gabe Schultz, all 5-foot-5 of him, is the vocal leader of the Warhawk secondary. That secondary will be put to the test today by a Mount Union offense that has thrown for nearly 4,000 yards.
Led by NCAA Division III All-America wide receiver, 6-2 Pierre Garcon, the Purple Raiders figure to throw Schultz’s way early and often.
“It’s been a challenge for me every week and this week is no different,” Schultz said.
“Mount Union’s so prolific on offense that you have to make sure you are doing all the little things necessary on the field. That means wrapping up and tackling, and not allowing a lot of yards after the catch.”
Today’s game will culminate a productive career for Schultz. He’s started the last two seasons, and has dressed for all three Stagg Bowls. In 14 games this season, Schultz has 48 tackles, including 38 solo tackles. He’s also picked up 5.5 tackles for losses; two fumble recoveries and one interception.
Perhaps the most telling stat for Schultz is that despite his lack of size, he leads the team this season with 16 passes broken up.
Defensive coordinator Brian Borland, now in his 14th season at Whitewater, is also a Fort Atkinson High graduate. So is Warhawk senior defensive tackle Corey Schroedl.
Schultz said Borland showed confidence in him as a freshman, and that the two developed a strong trust.
“Not a lot of people looked at me coming out of high school because of my size, but coach Borland saw me play and believed I could play at this level,” Schultz said. “That’s what makes it so neat to play in an event like this. It’s a chance to share the experience with not only my teammates, but some guys from my hometown as well.”
Schultz didn’t play college football for the publicity or notoriety. He had a simple goal in mind. At 5-5, Schultz wanted the opportunity to squash the belief that size matters on the football field. With a second-straight start in the Division III title game, he’s proven the point with an exclamation mark.
“I’ve always had a great work ethic to try and prove everybody wrong,” Schultz said. “I was the shorter guy in high school and I knew it would be the same in college.
“I just wanted a chance to play without everybody talking about how short I was. And I’ve been given that chance.”
Today will be the final chance for a small-town boy to shine on a big stage.