By the end of this season, UW-Whitewater's senior football class could be the one that gets the team back atop the NCAA Division III mountain.
But before anyone gets the cart ahead of the horse, the Warhawks are going to recognize their seniors with Senior Day before the first game of the season instead of the standard celebration surrounding the last home game on the schedule.
“I think it’s kind of a cool thing to change it up a little bit and be different,” said Jacob Erbs, a senior linebacker who is one of the four captains. “Hopefully then the parents aren’t crying because it’s our last game. Hopefully because it’s our first game, we’ll hold back the tears and save that emotional thing for the parents.”
Kevin Bullis, the fifth-year head coach of the Warhawks, initially got the idea from UW-Whitewater women’s soccer coach Ryan Quamme, who considers the home opener an opportunity to launch the senior season. Bullis appreciated the logic and sees it as an advantage for seniors to declare themselves as leaders.
“Now that we’re doing that in the first game, it changes the whole perspective,” Bullis said. “It’s not about the end, it’s about the beginning of the senior year. It totally relieves any potential distraction. If anything, it gives them a little extra juice to get their senior year going.”
One other “byproduct,” according to Bullis, is that it makes sure most of the seniors will be able to be on the field for their recognition. Last year, Jarrod Ware was injured in the first three weeks of the season. Instead of playing on senior day, Ware would have been in a boot and crutches.
Ware, who was allowed a medical redshirt year, is back this season and should be in pads for Senior Day.
Zweifel returns to Whitewater
Dubuque head coach Stan Zweifel will coach at Perkins Stadium for the first time since he left UW-Whitewater following the 2006 season.
Zweifel was the offensive coordinator for UW-Whitewater from 1990 until the retirement of Bob Berezowitz. He has been the head coach since the 2008 season, leading the Spartans to Iowa Intercollegiate Athletics Conference championships in 2011 and 2015.
“I try to keep up with how they do each week,” Berezowitz said. “It’s tough, though, to really talk much with coaches during the season because there is so much going on.”
Zweifel has been coaching football since he graduated from UW-River Falls in 1974. Bullis has credited Zweifel for getting him started in coaching when their paths crossed at University of Minnesota-Morris in the late 1980s.
Berezowitz laughed off the idea that Zweifel could be slowing down at this stage of his career.
“The one thing about Stan is that he always has energy,” Berezowitz said. “He looks forward to working with and teaching young people every year. With his energy, age is not a factor.”
Assistants on the move
After Nick Pesik (wide receivers) and Ryan Givens (running backs) moved on from their coaching positions at UW-Whitewater, Bullis and the coaching staff moved quickly to replace them both.
Pesik took a job as an offensive coordinator at UW-Stout. He was replaced by Eliot Fields.
“I was very excited for Nick; he was ready for that move,” Bullis said. “We hired Elliott Fields, who is a Wisconsin native and a Carroll College graduate. He was coaching down in Indianapolis at a Division II school. He was coaching defensive backs and was a running backs coach for (current UW-W offensive coordinator Peter) Jennings in the past.
“Even in Division III … there’s kind of a connection or a small (coaching) network.”
Givens took a position as a personal trainer at Push Power Milwaukee. He was replaced by Connor Senger, a former Milwaukee Pius athlete and Wisconsin quarterback who transferred to UW-Oshkosh following his redshirt sophomore year with the Badgers.
“We’re very excited about Connor,” Bullis said. “It’s great for Pete to have another quarterback mind in that room as well. He brings great energy to the staff.”