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UW-Whitewater closing in on league title

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THOMAS J. MILLER
October 24, 2008

Any routine oil changes, brake jobs or other maintenance that need to be performed on the UW-Whitewater football team buses should be completed before they are needed again.


The Warhawks will be at home the next three weeks. And by the time those buses roll again, Whitewater will likely have its fourth straight WIAC championship wrapped up.


The NCAA Division III No. 2-ranked team begins a three-game homestand at 1 p.m. Saturday against UW-Stevens Point. The game will be a homecoming and UW-Whitewater Athletics Hall of Fame celebration.


A win over the Pointers (2-1, 5-1) would almost clinch the title. The Warhawks would open a two-game lead over Stevens Point, which in reality would be three games, considering Whitewater would hold the head-to-head tie-breaker.


UW-River Falls is the only other team that enters Saturday's play with one loss, and the Warhawks already have beaten the Falcons.


The Warhawks went to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the WIAC with a 44-3 victory over UW-Oshkosh last Saturday. Whitewater rolled up 549 yards, while limiting Oshkosh to 113.


Stevens Point rolls into town after allowing only nine total points the past two weeks—victories over UW-Platteville, 3-0, and UW-Stout, 19-9.


Whitewater coach Lance Leipold expects a battle as the Warhawks attempt to set a WIAC record with their 26th straight conference victory. The Warhawks also have a 26-game home winning streak.


"It's going to be a heckuva challenge for our defense as a whole," Leipold said of the Pointers. "They have a transfer quarterback (Jared Beckwith)—everybody seems to get one every year—and he's playing well.


"Their running back (Mike Ferron) was banged up early, but he's healthy now," Leipold said. "Their receivers are tall and make plays. They have an excellent tight end (Brad Kalsow). They have continued to get better."


The same can be said about the Warhawks. The defending Division III national champs have the top offense in the WIAC. Whitewater leads the league with a 37.8 point scoring average, 242 yard-a-game rushing offense and 433.8-yards-a-game in total offense.


The Warhawks convert third downs at a 56.1 percent clip and lead the league in time of possession at 32:46.


The defense has been just as dominant.


The Warhawks have the top run-stopping defense in the WIAC, allowing an average of just 69 yards a game. Whitewater also leads the league with 15 sacks.


The Warhawks have not missed a beat this season, despite losing a team-load of seniors last year. The performance raises the question, "Is this team better, or potentially better, than last year's national championship team?''


Leipold hesitated to approach that question, but did say the coaching staff is confident about this squad.


"We understand our team," Leipold said. "We know what we can do at this point. Every week is a challenge."


And unfortunately for the rest of the WIAC, those challenges for the next three weeks will be at Perkins Stadium.


GAME FACTS

What: UW-Stevens Point (5-1, 2-1),at UW-Whitewater (6-0, 3-0).


Where: Perkins Stadium (15,000), Whitewater.


When: 1 p.m. Saturday.


TV/Radio: Charter Channel (Channel 20 on Janesville cable); WKCH (106.5 FM).



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