UW-Whiteawter matchup features pair of Gagliardi finalists
WHITEWATER When LSU meets Alabama for the national football championship, Heisman Trophy finalist Trent Richardson of the Crimson Tide will be going up against fellow finalist Tyrann Mathieu, a defensive back from the Tigers.
A similar scenario takes place Saturday at Perkins Stadium on the UW-Whitewater campus.
Two of the four finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy—Matt Blanchard of UW-Whitewater and Fritz Waldvogel of the University of St. Thomas (Minn.)—will be on the same field when the Warhawks face the Tommies in a NCAA Division III playoff semifinal.
The Gagliardi Trophy is the Division III version of the Heisman, awarded to the most outstanding player in the nation.
Whitewater High graduate and University of Dubuque senior Michael Zweifel is a third Gagliardi finalist, while Monmouth College’s Alex Tanney rounds out the final four.
Blanchard, the Warhawks’ senior quarterback from Lake Zurich, Ill., ranks sixth in Division III passing efficiency at 167.59. That led the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and included 22 touchdown passes with just three interceptions.
The physical education major has led the Warhawks to a 13-0 record, and was the starter in Whitewater’s undefeated regular season last year. He suffered a season-ending injury in the final regular-season game.
Blanchard has completed 197 of 287 passes, a 68.6 completion percentage. He has 2,576 passing yards.
Waldvogel is the primary pass receiver and a premier kick returner for St. Thomas, which also has a 13-0 record.
Waldvogel has 72 catches for 13 touchdowns and a 16.6-yard per catch average.
He has caught a pass in 47 straight games. St. Thomas is 14-0 when Waldvogel has two or more touchdowns in a game.
The senior has 7,154 career all-purpose yards, including 1,479 yards in punt returns. He has 4,244 career receiving yards and 1,547 yards on kickoff returns.
Waldvogel needs eight catches against the Warhawks to reach 300 for his career.
The Gagliardi Trophy winner will be announced Wednesday as part of the leadup to the Stagg Bowl championship game that will be played Friday, Dec. 16.