Division-III Football Playoffs: Wisconsin-Whitewater vs. Macalester College
Match-up: On Saturday at noon Eastern Time the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks (Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association, 10-0, 7-0) welcome the Macalester Scots (Midwest Conference, 9-1, 8-0) to Whitewater, WI for their first round battle in the NCAA Division-III football playoffs. UW-Whitewater enters as the No. 1 team in the latest D3Football poll, and is the defending national champions. Macalester did not receive points in the latest D3Football poll, but did get seven in the AFCA poll.
Coaches: It is really hard to find enough adjectives to describe the job that UW-Whitewater Warhawks Head Coach Lance Leipold has done. Now in his eighth season, Coach Leipold has a ridiculous career mark of 104-6. The two years before he took over the head coaching job the Warhawks were the runner-up in the national title game, but in his first season they won it all, and he has added four more to his resume, including last season. The Warhawks have had four 15-0 seasons with Coach Leipold at the helm.
Tony Jennison has completely turned around a program that for years was the laughingstock of Division-III football. He has a career mark of 35-33, and this was his third winning season in seven years. Coach Jennison guided the team to school records for wins (9) and longest winning streak (8) this season, and the Scots are making their first playoff appearance in school history.
The UW-Whitewater Warhawks are an incredibly balanced offense that is led by quarterback Matt Behrendt and a corral of bruising running backs. Behrendt is a senior and has the physical size most like in a QB. The 6-2, 205 pound quarterback threw for 2259 yards and 25 touchdowns. He is a very accurate passer, completing 68.4 percent of his passes, and is also very careful with the ball, throwing just 2 interceptions in 263 attempts.
The Warhawks employ a four-headed ground attack led by junior Dennis Moore. Moore has rushed for 641 yards this season with 3 touchdowns and a 6.4 yards per carry average. Fellow junior Jordan Ratliffe was second on the team in rushing with 486 yards and he scored 6 times, while posting a 5.9 yards per carry average. Nick Patterson led the team in touchdowns (7) and yards per carry average (7.4), and the junior finished with 483 yards rushing. Ryan Givens is the lone senior in this group, and he added 312 yards and 3 TDs. The Warhawks finished with 2150 total yards rushing, which makes it easy to see why they are so tough to stop on the ground.
Seven different receivers caught at least 10 balls this season, led by senior Justin Howard, who had 54 catches for 741 yards and 6 touchdowns. Senior Jake Kumerow is more of a deep threat, catching 44 passes for 707 yards and 10 scores.
This is another one of those defenses that doesn’t have big individual numbers simply because the team gets out to a big lead and then plays a lot of backups for the last 20 minutes of the game. Don’t be mistaken, however; this is a very good defense as an 8.6 points allowed average will attest to.
Junior linebacker Justin Dischler is the chief ball hawk on the Warhawks defense, leading the team with 60 tackles, and adding 2.5 sacks, an interception, 5 pass breakups and 6 pass defenses. Dischler has also forced 4 fumbles and always seems to be around the ball.
Defensive linemen Mykaell Bratchett, Zach Franz, Tim Regan, John Flood, Ben Threloff and Brandon Tamsett are a primary reason why this defense is so good. The six have combined for 39.5 tackles for loss, with Tamsett leading with 8, and they have recorded 16 sacks, with Franz and Bratchett tied for the team lead with 4.5 each. This group can be swapped in and out without any loss of skill, and this keeps them fresh.
UW-Whitewater finished with 30 sacks this season and 10 fumble recoveries. They added 16 interceptions, led by Brady Grayvold, who had 6 picks, as well as 5 pass breakups and 11 pass defenses.
The Macalester Scotts are led by junior running back Zandy Stowell, who rushed for 1243 yards and 6 touchdowns this season. At 5-9, 191 he is the not the size most teams want in an every down, power back, but Stowell has proven by his 242 carries that he can take a pounding and keep going. In back-to-back games against Carroll University and St. Norbert, Stowell carried the ball 30 times in the first contest and 36 in the second. He can take a pounding and give it right back.
Senior Samson Bialostok is the Scots quarterback, and he is developing into one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in Division-III. Bialostok threw for 1716 yards this season with 12 TDs. His completion percentage was just 50.4 percent, but he is careful with the ball, throwing just 6 interceptions in 228 attempts. While the senior is establishing himself as a quality passer, his skills as a runner are better than virtually every playoff bound quarterback. He rushed for 706 yards and scored 13 touchdowns this season.
The Scots had four players that caught at least 10 passes, led by senior Ben Hillman who made 42 catches for 556 yards and 2 touchdowns. Despite only making 14 catches, Victor Bordo has become Bialostok’s big play target of late. He has 250 yards receiving, leads the team with 5 touchdowns and has an outstanding 17.9 yards per catch average.
On defense the Scots are a bit undersized for this level of competition, but they have a quick and intelligent defense that reads plays well and reacts. They are a very experienced group, led by several seniors.
Junior Ryan Fleming is the team’s leading tackler with 89, and he also has an interception and a forced fumble to his credit. Ryan’s brother Konnor leads the team with 3 interceptions and has 8 pass breakups. Safety Jole Miller is a ball hawk who can cover well and support the run. He has an interception and 8 pass breakups. Senior linebacker Reid Callahan led the team with 6.5 sacks, and Nicholas Egersdorf finished second with 5.
Macalester: 405.0 yards per game. 25.9 points per game
UW-Whitewater: 473.1 yards per game, 40.8 points per game
Macalester: 280.7 yards per game, 15.1 points allowed per game
UW-Whitewater: 253.9 yards per game, 8.6 points allowed per game
Outlook: Everyone loves a feel good, Cinderella story, and the Macalester Scots have been that. The turnaround this season has been like a fairytale come to life, but that story is about to come to an end. The UW-Whitewater Warhawks are just too good. They have an outstanding defense that is resilient, and an offense that can hurt you in many ways. Take the Warhawks 52-21.
Tomorrow’s Previews on the Minor League Sports Report will look at:
Widener vs. Muhlenberg
Delaware Valley vs. Christopher Newport
Linfield vs. Chapman
Mary Hardin-Baylor vs. Texas Lutheran
By Robert Pannier