Warhawk mantra: Hit us with your best shot
Adrian (Mich.) College is a prime example of what UW-Whitewater football teams have faced on a weekly basis for the past several seasons.
Every opponent enters the game primed to play its best against the best.
That will be the case when Adrian travels to Perkins Stadium for a noon season opener Saturday.
“It’s not every week you have an opportunity to play the best team in the nation, and it’s a great opportunity for (the players),” first-year Adrian coach Jim Deere told the Adrian Daily Telegram. “If you want to compete on a national scale, you’ve got to play national championship caliber of teams.”
Deere, who is described as “intense,” was promoted to head coach after spending 18 seasons as an Adrian assistant, most recently as defensive coordinator.
“He’s a super-competitive guy,” Adrian athletic director Mike Duffy told the Michigan newspaper. “He’d rather play games like this. ‘Where are we at? How do we stack up? What kind of recruiting do I have to do to be like Whitewater?’
“That’s the eventual goal. They’ve been there. They won the whole thing. You have to learn something from them.”
The Warhawks will be prepared to dish out a lesson. The defending NCAA Division III national champions are 42-3 in Lance Leipold’s three seasons as head coach, including two national titles.
The 2009 national championship team will be honored in pregame ceremonies.
With the coaching staff just getting done with having to cut 36 players to get to the 100-player team limit, the ones who made the final roster should be ready to defend the national title.
Whitewater should be a scoring machine again this season, with such standouts as running back Levell Coppage, receiver Aaron Rusch and linemen Robbie Ustruck and Matt Weber.
Matt Blanchard will take over for Jeff Donovan as the starting quarterback.
The Warhawk defense will have several new faces in the starting lineup, but nearly every starter saw extensive action last season.
Janesville Parker High School graduate Matt McCulloch is the lone returning starter in the secondary. McCulloch starts at one of the cornerback spots.
Freshman Steve Guelff won the place-kicking competition. The Florida native replaces All-America and NCAA record-holder Jeff Schebler.
Adrian returns 10 players with starting experience from last year’s 6-4 team.
Senior quarterback Mike McGee, who is on the doorstep of setting several Adrian records with 4,300 yards passing and 30 TDs in his 30 starts, has been pushed by sophomore transfer Justin Hemm throughtout camp. Hemm, who transferred from Ball State, is listed as the starter for Saturday’s game.
Danny Taylor, a senior linebacker who is a team captain, led the Bulldogs with 70 tackles last season.