Whitewater quarterback situation still unclear
Will the defending champion Warhawks go with regular-season starter Matt Blanchard, or playoff-replacement Lee Brekke?
Is Neal Seaman going to be under center for the Purple Raiders, or will University of South Florida transfer Matt Piloto start after replacing the injured Seaman in last Saturday’s semifinal game?
It probably doesn’t matter. Both teams have so many weapons offensively, points shouldn’t be hard to come by, regardless of who is taking snaps.
Blanchard started every regular-season game for Whitewater, but sprained the thumb on his throwing hand in the WIAC finale against UW-La Crosse. Brekke, a Sun Prairie High School graduate, stepped in and led the Warhawks to four postseason victories, including back-to-back road wins.
“Matt has taken more and more reps every week,” Whitewater coach Lance Leipold said. He was able to play if needed (last) Saturday against Wesley. And he might come back and play in the Stagg Bowl.”
Brekke completed 13 of 19 passes for 144 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Warhawks’ 27-7 semifinal win over Wesley.
In eight games, including four playoff games, Brekke is 58-91 for 722 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.
“Brekke’s been a pleasant surprise,” Leipold said. “To lead us where we’re at right now, I’m very proud of the young man.”
Blanchard, who transferred to Whitewater from Northern Michigan, has thrown for 2,132 yards, 21 touchdowns and only one interception.
If Blanchard has an advantage over Brekke, it’s with his feet. Blanchard has rushed for over 200 yards this season, averaging 6.0 yards per carry. Brekke has been a non-threat out of the pocket, averaging minus-1 yard per carry on 18 rushes.
Mount Union hopes to have Seaman back for the Stagg Bowl. The sophomore injured his foot making a tackle after he was intercepted on the first series of the Raiders’ semifinal game last Saturday. Seaman has thrown for 3,190 yards and 28 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions.
Piloto was more than competent in filling in for the injured Seaman. He went 17-32 for 335 yards and four touchdowns in the Purple Raiders’ 34-14 win over Bethel (Mn.).
“He was a little jittery on his first few series, but he settled in,” Mount Union coach Larry Kehres said.
“We’re going to prepare with Matt Piloto for the Stagg Bowl until Neal can have a few more days to see how he feels.”
Whitewater has the luxury of three quality running backs, which puts less stress on Leipold and the quarterback situation.
Levell Coppage, the D3football.com West Region Offensive Player of the Year and two-time WIAC Player of the Year, has rushed for 1,808 yards this season. He is averaging 6.1 yards per carry and 139.1 yards per game. Former University of Wisconsin player Booker Stanley is also running in high gear for the Warhawks, along with Madison Memorial graduate Antwan Anderson. The Warhawks are averaging 268 yards per game on the ground and 40.9 points per game.
Mount Union is averaging 453 yards of offense per game and just under 40 points per game at 39.8.
The quarterbacks aren’t likely to decide today’s game. No matter whom it might be.