WIAC football preview: A new season begins Thursday night as UW-Platteville plays in Texas
UW-Platteville at East Texas Baptist (Richardson, Texas), 7 p.m.
Rankings (d3football.com): UW-Platteville, No. 16; East Texas Baptist, receiving votes.
Live statistics: https://goetbutigers.com/coverage.aspx
About the Pioneers: Coach Mike Emendorfer brings the Pioneers to Texas for the first time since a 1970 NAIA semifinal against eventual champion Texas A&I. The Pioneers have never lost a season opener in his 19 years as coach. … Platteville returns eight starters on offense and nine on defense, including first-team all-WIAC punter Connor Foley (41.3 yards per punt in 2017), second-team defensive back Luke Johnson (35 tackles four interceptions) and second-team receiver Mark Johnson (93 catches, 1,218 yards, 13.1 yards per catch, 11 touchdowns). … Back on defense are senior linebackers Ben Mogilevsky (54 tackles) and Clayton Becker (40 tackles) and junior defensive back Luke Johnson.
About the Tigers: ETBU battles familiar foes such as Mary Hardin-Baylor and Hardin-Simmons in the American Southwest Conference, and is picked for third in the league (behind those two powers) this fall. … Tigers product C.J. Johnson was placed on the Green Bay Packers’ injured reserve list earlier this month. … Senior quarterback Brian Baca will lead the Tigers’ offense (1,867 yards passing, 286 yards rushing last year), teaming with receiver Richard Johnson (15 touchdown receptions) and running back Tarek Beaugard (877 yards, nine TDs). … The Tigers’ defense is loaded with seniors, led by left end Zack Walker, middle linebacker Garret Gibson and safeties Hardy Hill and Zack Biles.
UW-Whitewater at Dubuque (Iowa), 6 p.m.
Rankings: UW-Whitewater, No. 12.
Live video and statistics: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/dbq/
Live audio: http://www.940wfaw.com/
About the Warhawks: Coach Kevin Bullis’ team won its last six games last season but missed out on a playoff berth. Bullis enters his third year with a 31-6 record at Whitewater. … The Warhawks have three preseason All-Americans on defense, led by senior lineman Harry Henschler (14 sacks last year), senior linebacker Bryce Leszczynski and senior defensive back Famus Hasty. … The Warhawks have a new offensive coordinator in Peter Jennings, hoping to return the consistency that often was missing last year. Back at quarterback is third-year starter Cole Wilber (2,067 yards passing, 56.2 percent completions, 13 TDs). Running backs Ronny Ponick and Alex Peete return after limited action last year, and the top returning receiver is Mitchell Dess (12 catches, 118 yards). Senior Nate Trewyn of Milton, a two-time all-WIAC pick, leads an otherwise young offensive line.
About the Spartans: Coach Stan Zwiefel, in his 11th year, is a product of the WIAC who played at UW-River Falls and was a successful assistant head coach/offensive coordinator at UW-Whitewater for 16 years. … Dubuque is picked for third in the American Rivers Conference … The Spartans return six starters on offense, led by first-team all-conference running back Dwayne Allen (1,238 yards, 10 TDs) and five on defense, led by linebacker Chad Marsh (62 tackles, 4.5 for loss).
UW-Oshkosh at Carthage (Kenosha), noon
Rankings: UW-Oshkosh, No. 4.
Live video: https://www.carthage.edu/multimedia/webcast-2
Live audio: https://www.wlip.com
Live statistics: https://athletics.carthage.edu/sidearmstats/football/summary
About the Titans: Coach Pat Cerroni’s team won the 2017 WIAC title, its second in the last three years, and made a second consecutive trip to (at least) the NCAA Division III semifinals. … This year’s team plays the first five games of its 10-game schedule on the road. … The Titans appear to be loaded, returning eight starters on defense and six on offense. On defense, senior linebacker Derrick Jennings, Jr., and senior safety Cole Yoder were first-team all-WIAC picks, and Jennings earned All-America honors after delivering 64 tackles, five interceptions and 2.5 sacks. … On offense, all-WIAC returnees are senior guards Tyler Powers and Alex Wendorf and senior receiver Dom Todarello, the WIAC Special Teams Player of the Year.
About the Red Men: Dustin Haas has moved up to the head coaching spot after building Division III’s fourth-ranked defense as an assistant coach for the last four years. The program ranked fourth in the nation in interceptions (27), sixth in defensive TDs (five), 11th in total defense (258.9 yards/game) and first in turnover margin (plus-1.60). Junior quarterback Kyle Friberg completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 1,620 yards and 14 touchdowns with two interceptions last year.
UW-La Crosse at Luther (Decorah, Iowa), 1 p.m.
Rankings: UW-La Crosse, receiving votes.
Live video: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/luther/
Live audio: https://wktysports.com/
About the Eagles: Coach Mike Schmidt’s program is beginning to take hold in this, his third season. La Crosse set a single-season school record last year with 29 passing touchdowns, 200 completions, 381 attempts and 3,024 yards. The defense allowed 15.1 points per game, the program’s lowest average since 2000. Among the returnees are junior kicker Michael Pakos of Wisconsin Dells, sophomore punter Sean Parker, senior offensive lineman Bradley Schultz and junior tight end Cole Spieker. Senior quarterback Ben Schramski did not play last season, beaten out for the job by Watertown’s Tarek Yaeggi, but is back this fall after seeing playing time in 2016.
About the Norse: First-year head coach Caleb Padilla’s program is picked for fifth in the American Rivers Conference. Among the top returnees is junior quarterback Ian Kuykendall and first-team all-conference defensive back Dante Joseph.
UW-Eau Claire at Loras (Dubuque, Iowa), 1 p.m.
Live video: http://www.duhawks.com/watch/
Live statistics: http://duhawks.com/sidearmstats/football/summary
Notable: Eau Claire’s defense, which gave up more than 35 points per game last year, will be challenged by the Duhawks’ spread offense. ... Loras ranked 26th in NCAA III in passing last year, averaging better than 300 passing yards per game. This will be the first game on Loras’ new Rock Bowl Field.
John Carroll (University Heights, Ohio) at UW-Stevens Point, 1 p.m.
Rankings: John Carroll, receiving votes.
Live video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E4drouOuqs
Live statistics: https://athletics.uwsp.edu/sidearmstats/football/summary
Notable: New Pointers coach Greg Breitbach will make his debut with five all-conference honorees, 12 starters and 41 letter winners returning. … John Carroll went 6-4 in coach Rick Finotti’s first season last fall and returns third-year starter Anthony Moeglin at quarterback (1,992 yards, 17 TDs last year).
UW-Stout at St. John’s (Collegeville, Minn), 1 p.m.
Rankings: St. John’s, No. 11.
Live video: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/csbsju/
Live audio: https://wmeq.iheart.com/
Live statistics: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/csbsju/
Notable: The focus shifts from defense (second-best in the WIAC last year) to offense for coach Clayt Birmingham’s Blue Devils. Returning are first-team All-WIAC lineman Caleb Adams, second-team running back Rayshawn Graham and senior quarterback Jay Alston (3,301 career passing yards), and WIAC Special Teams Co-Player of the Year Drew Pearson at kicker. … St. John’s is seeking a fifth straight trip to the NCAA III playoffs and returns three preseason All-Americans in defensive lineman Nathan Brinker, offensive lineman Dan Greenhack and safety Max Jackson.
Minnesota-Morris at UW-River Falls, 6 p.m.
Live video: https://uwrfsports.com/watch/?Live=192
Live statistics: https://uwrfsports.com/sidearmstats/football/summary
Notable: Coach Matt Walker’s Falcons are led by preseason All-American linebacker Max Praschak, a University of Wisconsin transfer who led the WIAC in tackles with 91 last season. The Falcons will dedicate the season to Mike Farley, who led the program to a 117-71-3 record from 1970 to 1988. … Minnesota-Morris is picked for eighth in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, led by junior quarterback Justin Masloski (1,081 yards passing, 418 yards rushing last year).