Warhawk class of success
The second-ranked Warhawks host UW-Oshkosh at 1 p.m. at Perkins Stadium, and it will mark the final regular-season home game for 19 seniors.
Led by quarterback Jeff Donovan, defensive back Troney Shumpert and place-kicker Jeff Schebler, the senior class has been nothing short of spectacular—winning the 2007 NCAA Division III national championship, three straight WIAC titles and compiling a 48-4 record.
“This (senior) class has been instrumental in getting the program to the point where it’s at now,” Whitewater coach Lance Leipold said. “And that’s the ultimate compliment you can give to any graduating class.”
Whitewater goes into the game against Oshkosh on a roll. After a 41-12 victory over UW-Stevens Point in a battle of conference co-leaders, the Warhawks are 8-0 overall, including 4-0 in the WIAC, and can clinch at least a share of a fifth straight conference title by beating the Titans (4-4, 2-3).
The Warhawks have not trailed the entire season in averaging 41 points a game while allowing opponents just over seven points per game.
Leipold said a victory Saturday will mean a lot more than just a share of the WIAC title.
“Our No. 1 goal is always to win conference,” Leipold said. “And we can take a big step toward that with a win Saturday. Last year, we didn’t get the automatic (postseason) bid, and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen this year.
“But we better come ready to play. I’m really impressed with what Oshkosh does offensively. They’ve moved the ball on everyone they’ve played, and the record doesn’t reflect how talented they are. They’ve got a couple of really tough losses.”
Quarterback Nate Wara leads the Titans. He has completed 65 percent of his passes for 163 yards a game and has added 342 yards on the ground. Wara threw for 358 yards and three touchdowns in the Titans’ 44-35 loss to UW-Eau Claire last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Whitewater’s defense has been downright impenetrable. The Warhawks have allowed only one rushing touchdown in eight games and are yielding only 88.8 yards rushing a game.
Leipold said winning the turnover battle could be the key Saturday.
“We got an interception on the first play from scrimmage last week, and that really seemed to change momentum quickly,” Leipold said. “Stevens Point came in with a lot of energy, but after the interception and then getting a score right away, we were able to feed off of that and maintain the momentum.
“We’re playing at home this week and can really put ourselves in great position with a win. I think everyone on our team understands that.”
That’s especially true for the 19 seniors who will be taking the field at Perkins Stadium for the last time during the regular season.