Aug. 31, 2010

Courtesy of Wis.-Stevens Point Athletics

A season after just missing out on a  NCAA Division III playoff bid and posting a runner-up finish in the in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC),  the UW-Stevens Point football team has been picked to finish second again by the league's sports information directors.

Defending NCAA Division III champion and five-time league winner, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is the preseason favorite to win the 2010 WIAC football title.  The Warhawks were the unanimous choice to win this year’s crown and would become the just second team in WIAC archives to secure six consecutive championships, joining UW-La Crosse (1949-54).

UW-Whitewater is ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll and The Sporting News NCAA Division III Preseason Top 25. The Warhawks have participated in five straight Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl (national championship) contests and own 31 conference first-place plaques. Junior Levell Coppage established WIAC single-season records with 35 rushing touchdowns and 210 points scored during the 2009 campaign, while producing the third-highest rushing yardage total with 2,107 yards. UW-Whitewater has been ranked among the top 15 in NCAA Division III attendance six consecutive years.

UW-Stevens Point, ranked No. 16 by, has posted at least six wins in 19 of 22 seasons under head coach John Miech who is the longest tenured coach in the conference. Senior Jared Jenkins earned All-America honors as a punter in 2009 and finished third in the NCAA Division III with a 41.2 average. He also led the league with 80 receptions, 1,210 receiving yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. His receiving yardage ranks as the seventh-highest total in WIAC listings. Jenkins matched a conference single-game record with four touchdown receptions against UW-Eau Claire on October 3, 2009.

Clayt Birmingham takes over as head coach at UW-Stout after serving the previous three seasons as defensive coordinator. He replaces Duey Naatz who assumed Athletic Director duties at the school. The 2009 squad recorded eight victories - the third time in program history accumulating eight wins or more and UW-Stout’s best overall and WIAC record since 2000. Junior Craig Warminski ranks seventh on the school’s all-time chart with 1,916 rushing yards. The Blue Devils lost 20 players to graduation, one of the largest graduating classes in program archives.

UW-Eau Claire will play three of its six home games under the lights at Carson Park this season. The Blugolds will face St. John’s University (Minn.) for the 10th time in the last 12 years, but just the fourth time at home. UW-Eau Claire led the WIAC in passing offense a year ago and return junior David Goodman who is tied for 10th on the school’s all-time list with 13 career touchdown catches. He needs eight more to set the program record.

Thirteen different players caught a pass for UW-La Crosse last year and the Eagles return four of their top-five players in catches. Junior Alex Maxinoski and senior Travis Bordeau combined for 120 receptions, 1,320 receiving yards and six touchdown catches in 2009. UW-La Crosse finished 3-3 at the newly constructed Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex last season and averaged 29.9 points per game after averaging 20.3 in 2008. Senior Nick Anker started all 10 games at quarterback a year ago.

UW-Oshkosh has won 27 of its last 29 season openers and will host defending NCAA Division III runner-up University of Mount Union (Ohio) the second week of the season. The Titans return 10 offensive starters from 2009, including six players who started all 10 games. Senior Nate Heard leads all Titans with 24 career starts. UW-Oshkosh’s last five WIAC victories have come by a combined 11 points.

UW-River Falls plays its first contest on Sept. 1, and that is the earliest date the Falcons have ever opened their season. Junior Greg Klingelhutz amassed 686 kickoff return yards in 2009 - the fifth-highest total in conference listings. The light standards at Ramer Field have been moved to outside the main stadium area because the previous location was just 10 yards from the playing surface and disrupted sight lines. The lights were the original ones that were installed when Ramer Field was built in 1966.

UW-Platteville has won its season opener all 11 years under head coach Mike Emendorfer. The next home victory will be the 100th at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium where the Pioneers are 99-86-1 since it opened in 1972. Nick Anderson was the first Pioneer freshman quarterback to start the season opener. UW-Platteville was 3-2 under Anderson before he was lost for the year to an injury.