Warhawks to begin another playoff trip
Matchup: Lakeland College (6-4) vs. UW-Whitewater (10-0).
What: NCAA Division III playoff opener.
Where: Perkins Stadium, Whitewater.
When: Noon Saturday.
Radio: WKCH (106.5 FM).
Key stat: Whitewater is 6-0 against Lakeland. UW-W won 21-0 in 1975, 57-0 in 1980, 48-28 in 2004, 73-12 in 2005, 75-14 in 2006, and 41-7 in 2007.
WHITEWATER The road to Salem, Va., begins Saturday for UW-Whitewater’s football team.
The No. 2-ranked Warhawks start NCAA Division III postseason play at home against Lakeland College. Kickoff is scheduled for noon at Perkins Stadium.
Whitewater (10-0) has advanced to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Salem, Va., the last four seasons, including a national championship in 2007.
“We never take anything for granted,” Whitewater coach Lance Leipold said of the school’s fifth straight postseason berth. “I’m extremely happy for the kids, and I hope they cherish the opportunity to represent our fine school in the NCAA tournament.
“We’re excited to begin the second season, and by running the table, we’ve given ourselves a chance to play at home. That’s a great advantage.”
Whitewater will be heavily favored against the Muskies (6-4), the Northern Athletics Conference champions. The Warhawks are fourth in NCAA Division III in total offense (500.6), sixth in scoring (42.6), third in pass efficiency and third in sacks allowed (3).
Sophomore runninb Levell Coppage is fourth in rushing (143.4) and leads D3 in scoring (14.4 points per game), while Jeff Donovan is third in pass efficiency.
On the other side of the ball, Whitewater is sixth in total defense (238.6) and third in fewest points allowed (8.4).
“When we execute and limit our mistakes, we’re a pretty darn good football team,” Leipold said. “But this is a new season, and we have to go out and prove ourselves once again.
“The season can be a grind and there tends to be some monotony along the way, especially when you don’t play a lot of close games. But that’s all behind us now. Records and stats don’t mean anything now.”
Saturday’s playoff opener will be the 56th game in four years for the Whitewater seniors, while Lakeland will be making only its second postseason appearance in school history. Whitewater offensive coordinator Jim Zebrowski was the head coach at Lakeland when the Warhawks beat the Muskies in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Was Zebrowski able to give his head coach any tips about the Muskies?
“No, they’re a much different team than we’ve seen previously,” Leipold said. “The thing that concerns me about them is that they run a 3-5-3 defense. We don’t see a lot of that and it can create havoc at times. We’re going to have to adjust to it.”
Whitewater is 6-0 all-time against Lakeland and has defeated the Muskies by an average of 40.3 points per game.