WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- They may have a new leader, but the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater remains the team that everybody in NCAA Division III football is hunting.
The Warhawks won their second straight and sixth national championship in eight years last December. And they start their 2015 campaign on Sept. 12 at Belhaven, Mississippi, with college football’s longest winning streak at 32 games. They are ranked in the top three of three preseason polls, including No. 1 by D3football.com.
UW-Whitewater must replace such standouts as quarterback Matt Behrendt, wide receivers Jake Kumerow and Justin Howard, defensive back Brady Grayvold, defensive back and Delavan-Darien alum Marcus McLin and defensive lineman Mykaell Bratchett.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Ethan Cesarz has room to grow physically and in his knowledge of the game, sobering thoughts for opposing football coaches in the Southern Lakes Conference.
The Delavan-Darien High School standout measures 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, and he started his junior season Friday night when the Comets hosted East Troy in a nonconference contest.
The excitement is obvious in second-year DDHS coach Bret St. Arnauld’s voice when talking about No. 18, who was selected to the league’s first team at tight end and the second team at linebacker last fall.
STATELINE NEWS -- Adjustments are part of life and football in transitioning from high school to college, especially for a quarterback.
However, 2013 Milton High School graduate Evan Phillips said he has enjoyed an advantage that many other athletes don’t.
“Beloit was an ideal situation for me because we run basically the same system that we did during my junior and senior years at Milton,” said Phillips, who earned honorable mention status both years in the tough Badger South Conference. “We use a lot of the same passing concepts and a lot of the same play calls, and the way the quarterback runs the offense is similar. So, you could say this is my fifth year in this offense. And I didn’t know it until I got here, but Matt Lee, who was my offensive coordinator in high school, is our running backs coach.”
Another Wisconsin high school football season is upon us, with the bulk of teams across the Badger State kicking off Friday night.
That’s the case with every Stateline area squad, except for Williams Bay, which is scheduled to open Saturday.
Here is a rundown of Week One’s match-ups, most of them nonconference affairs except for Janesville Parker and Janesville Craig starting Big Eight competition.
Friday, Aug. 21
Beloit Turner at University School (NC)
Derek Diehl inherits a Turner program that has not won more than two games since 2008, and the former Williams Bay coach is hoping that senior quarterback Seth Smith and the Trojans’ offense can reach double figures more than three times like last year.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- No one has deeper roots in their community or stronger family ties than the Harmses of Whitewater.
Gary Harms has worked at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater since 1985, and his wife, Judy, has coached the Whitewater High School girls basketball team since 2000.
Their daughters, Leah and Kelsey, played for their mother, who led the Whippets to the WIAA Division 3 state title last spring, and are employed at UW-Whitewater, where Kelsey is finishing her degree in early childhood and special education.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Brian Porter credits two men for influencing him and his life the most. The first was his late father, Bob, who moved the family from Elgin, Illinois, to Walworth County.
“Our dad never was a great (yacht) racer, but he loved sailing,” said Porter, 57, who is a 1976 Big Foot High School graduate. “My older brother, John, and I were four years apart, but we always were close, and we have been out on the water here since we were kids because of our father.
“The club made him a trophy once because he tipped over five times and still finished the race,” Porter said with a chuckle. “Like I said, Dad wasn’t much of a racer, but he loved the water and moved us up here.”
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Sam Novak set two goals upon starting his collegiate soccer career. And while it may not be evident to the casual observer, the results prove he has realized both of them.
“My biggest improvements have to be speed and strength,” Novak said. “I think I’ve gained about 25 pounds of muscle since my senior year of high school.”
The Milton High School graduate and senior-to-be at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater earned second-team Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors his first two seasons with the Warhawks and made the first team last fall.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- It didn’t take long for the reality of playing NCAA Division I football to set in for Carter Hehr.
“I can summarize it based on my first two plays,” the 2013 Big Foot High School graduate said. “The first play I ran down the field on kickoff (coverage) against UCLA in the Rose Bowl and ended up tackling the returner. The very next time, I ran down the field and I got blindsided by a UCLA blocker. I mean blindsided in the sense that my body was parallel to the Rose Bowl grass. I learned that I have to keep my head on a swivel and do the hitting instead of getting hit. It is much more fun that way.”
And it meant that the 5-foot-10, 188-pound safety had arrived -- and he had realized a dream.
STATELINE NEWS -- Riley Pearson was a four-year varsity performer and three-year starter in football at Parkview High School, earning Rock Valley Conference honorable mention recognition as a sophomore while making the second team after his junior season.
He didn’t add first-team laurels to his resume as a senior. Not because the linebacker and fullback’s play diminished in any way -- he broke his right leg during the fourth game against Big Foot, so he wasn’t eligible.
“I broke my leg and tore ligaments in my ankle and needed surgery,” Pearson said. “A pile (of players) just rolled over my leg. It was all a freak accident. I couldn’t put any weight on my leg for about five months while in a cast, and then I was in a walking boot for another month. I had about a month when I really could start doing rehab and any kind of training to get prepared for my senior year of baseball.”
STATELINE NEWS -- Officials with the Macktown Warriors Youth Football program are crossing the border in hopes of increasing participation while building bridges and making connections.
Matt Strand has been with the organization, which started in 2007, for five years. It mainly serves the feeder districts of Hononegah High School in Rockton.
However, its annual camp also is open to neighboring communities South Beloit, Machesney Park and Beloit. And the idea is to expand it to Janesville and other Stateline area schools because this year’s event will be held at Beloit College’s Strong Stadium. Coaches from Beloit College and Hononegah High School will join Macktown instructors for sessions, which are for participants in kindergarten through eighth grade, that are scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, July 20 through July 23.