Blugold Football Receives One First-Place Vote, Picked to Finish Fifth

MADISON, Wis. ( - University of Wisconsin-Platteville has been selected to win the 2013 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) football championship, according to the conference's head coaches and sports information directors.

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The Pioneers, who are ranked ninth nationally by USA TODAY Sports, No. 11 by and No. 24 by Sporting News, picked up six first-place votes in the league projections. Last year's team finished 8-2 for the best record since the 1976 campaign, and a winning season in 2013 would mark the program's third straight - a feat that hasn't been accomplished since 1990-92. UW-Platteville owns 14 WIAC championships with the most recent in 1980.

The Pioneers return nine starters from their 2012 offensive unit that established program single-season records with 410 points scored, 33 touchdown passes, 244 first downs, 4,719 yards of total offense and a 71.0 completion percentage. Senior Ryley Bailey had 70 receptions for 849 yards and 10 touchdown receptions a season ago. The 70 receptions marked the third-highest total in program archives, while the 849 yards are fifth. Senior Zach Litchfield established a school single-season record for points by a kicker with 71 in 2012, and is five points away from breaking the career mark of 185 points. UW-Platteville will play only four games at home this season, and travel to UW-Whitewater and UW-Oshkosh in two of the final three weeks of the season.

UW-Whitewater, ranked third by Sporting News, seventh by USA Today Sports and ninth by, received four first-place votes in the conference ballot and is slotted for second in the eight-team race. The Warhawks return six starters on both offense and defense from last year's squad that suffered three losses - the program's highest mark since 2004, and equaled the total number of losses in the previous five seasons combined. UW-Whitewater boasted the second-ranked scoring defense in NCAA Division III a season ago - allowing 10.2 points per contest. Senior Eric Kindler ranks second on the conference's all-time list with 54 field goals made and 165 extra points made, while placing third with 396 points. UW-Whitewater welcomes back Tyler Huber, who missed most of 2012 with an injury. He recorded 79 catches and 10 touchdowns in 2011. The Warhawks own a 64-5 record at Perkins Stadium over the last decade and ranked second in NCAA Division III last season with an average of 7,552 spectators per contest.

UW-Oshkosh, ranked eighth by Sporting News and No. 12 by, secured four first-place votes in the conference survey and is expected to place third. The Titans won their eighth WIAC title - and first in 36 years - in 2012, while completing the best four-year run in school history with 28 wins. A season ago, UW-Oshkosh established program records with 13 wins, 525 points, 23 interceptions and 6,721 yards of total offense. Seniors Cole Myhra and Caleb Voss both ranked fourth in NCAA Division III with 1,589 rushing yards and 1,333 receiving yards, respectively during the 2012 campaign. The Titans will need to replace 2012 WIAC Player of the Year Nate Wara, who started the last 44 games for the squad. UW-Oshkosh's 2013 schedule includes a trip to defending NAIA champion Marian University (Ind.) on Sept. 14.

UW-La Crosse and UW-Eau Claire each picked up one first-place vote in the projections, and are pegged for fourth and fifth, respectively in the league ledger.

UW-La Crosse returns eight starters on defense, including three linemen (senior Nick Berg, senior Andrew Walsh and sophomore Zackary Kleven) who combined for 29 starts in 2012, while juniors Jacob Flegner and Max Nicholson combined for 15 pass deflections in the backfield. The offense returns five of the top-six rushers and four of the top-five receivers for a unit that threw just seven interceptions - its fewest since 1992 - and had 15 different players catch a pass. The Eagles will play six home games for the first time since 2009, and play their first road contest at Missouri University of Science and Technology, which finished No. 24 in the final NCAA Division II poll.

UW-Eau Claire is coming off a 2012 campaign where it finished above .500 against WIAC opponents for the first time since 2009. The Blugolds return seven starters on offense, including senior Joel Sweeney, who ranks in the top 10 in school history with 634 career rushing attempts (eighth), 2,853 yards (seventh) and 33 rushing touchdowns (seventh). Junior Thurgood Dennis is the fastest returning player in all of college football, among those with track backgrounds, using official "Fully Automated Time" measurements that included 100- and 200-meter dash times. For the second straight year, the Blugolds will open the season against University of St. Thomas (Minn.), the 2012 national runner-up. UW-Eau Claire will play on a Friday for the first time since 1965 when it travels to UW-Whitewater on Oct. 18.

UW-Stevens Point senior Mitch Beau was fourth in the league in total offense at 208.2 yards per contest - only UW-Platteville's Bryce Corrigan had more among league returners. The Pointer defense returns eight starters, including three of the league's top-five leaders in tackles per game - senior Jimmy Sladek (8.6), sophomore Aaron Karlen (8.1) and junior Bo Seibel (8.0). For the first time in 13 years, UW-Stevens Point will play under the lights at Community Stadium at Goerke Park with back-to-back night games to start the season. The 2013 schedule for the Pointers will include at least five home games for the first time since 2010.

UW-Stout welcomes back four of its six leading receivers from a year ago, including senior Trevor Morning who had a team-high 655 receiving yards. The Blue Devil defense, led by junior Tyler Naatz - who was second in the conference with 8.5 tackles per game - finished fourth in the WIAC in total defense in 2012, marking a jump of two spots from the previous two years. Senior Ricky Marteney is fifth on the school's all-time scoring list with 163 points and owns the career field goals made mark with 35. He booted 13 field goals a season ago - the second-most in a single season in school history.

UW-River Falls opens the 2013 campaign with a pair of home games against Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opponents - Saint John's University (Minn.) on Sept. 6, and University of St. Thomas (Minn.) on Sept. 12. Sophomore Ryan Kusilek was third in the league with 212.7 passing yards per contest, while his 232 completions ranked second. Senior Alex Adams recorded seven interceptions during the 2012 campaign - the second-highest mark in the conference. Sophomore Robbie Flom was the only player in the WIAC to return a kickoff for a touchdown in 2012 - returning a kick 93 yards against UW-Stevens Point. He led the conference in kickoff return average at 26.6 yards.

2013 Preseason Predictions--Voted on by WIAC Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors

2012 Record
1. UW-Platteville (6) 8-2 overall, 5-2 WIAC
2. UW-Whitewater (4) 7-3, 5-2
3. UW-Oshkosh (4) 13-1, 7-0
4. UW-La Crosse (1) 4-6, 3-4
5. UW-Eau Claire (1) 4-6, 4-3
6. UW-Stevens Point 2-8, 1-6
7. UW-Stout 3-7, 1-6
8. UW-River Falls 2-8, 2-5
( )--First-place votes

Team Nuggets

UW-Eau Claire
Head Coach: Todd Glaser; 11th season (8th at UWEC); 50-52 (overall) / 37-35 (UWEC)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 12/10
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 18/11
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 0/2
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 7/4
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 5/6
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 0/2
Returning All-WIAC: Sean Graham, Sr., LB (2011-Honorable, 2012-Second); Paul Santi, Sr., OL (2011-Second, 2012-Second); Joel Sweeney, Sr., RB (2010-Second, 2012-First)

UW-La Crosse
Head Coach: Joel Dettwiler; 3rd season at UWL; 7-13
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 15/14
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 25/10
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 0/2
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 4/7
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 8/3
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 0/2
Returning All-WIAC: Nick Berg, Sr., DL (2012-Second); Tony Bilderback, Sr., WR (2011-Honorable); Ben Hertrampf, Sr., RB (2011-First); Matt Krier, Jr., OL (2012-Second)

Head Coach: Pat Cerroni; 7th season at UWO; 39-24
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 26/6
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 17/14
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/1
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 8/3
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 3/8
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 1/1
Returning All-WIAC: Zach Kasuboski, Jr., WR (2012-First); Cole Myhra, Sr., RB (2011-Second, 2012-First); Garrett Porter, Jr., OL (2012-Honorable); Nate Ray, Jr., PK (2012-Second); Alex Smith, Jr., DE (2012-Second); Ryan Stefaniak, Sr., LB (2012-Second); Caleb Voss, Sr., WR (2011-Honorable, 2012-First)

Head Coach: Mike Emendorfer; 15th season at UWP; 57-82
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 24/7
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 25/10
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 3/0
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 9/2
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 6/5
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/0
Returning All-WIAC: Ryley Bailey, Sr., WR (2012-First); Tony Berry, Jr., OL (2012-Second); Bryce Corrigan, Jr., QB (2012-Second); Bronzun Kyles, Sr., DL (2012-Second); Zach Litchfield, Sr., K (2011-Second); Alex Schaefer, Sr., DL (2012-Second); Lee Vlasak, Sr., RB (2011-Honorable); Trevor Whitehead, Jr., WR (2012-Second); Jacob Zilbar, Jr., LB (2011-Honorable, 2012-Honorable)

UW-River Falls
Head Coach: Matt Walker; 6th season (3rd at UWRF); 25-25 (overall) / 3-17 (UWRF)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 27/22
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 28/14
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 1/1
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 6/5
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 6/5
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 1/1
Returning All-WIAC: Alex Adams, Sr., DB (2012-Honorable); Robbie Flom, So., DB/Returner (2012-First/Returner)

UW-Stevens Point
Head Coach: Tom Journell; 5th season (2nd at UWSP); 24-26 (overall) / 2-8 (UWSP)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 31/14
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 38/12
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/1
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 7/4
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 8/3
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 1/1
Returning All-WIAC: Andy Coenen, Sr., OL (2012-Second); Jon Pahl, Jr., DE (2012-Honorable)

Head Coach: Clayt Birmingham; 4th season at UWST; 14-16
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 13/12
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 18/9
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 1/2
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 5/6
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 5/6
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 1/2
Returning All-WIAC: David Goebel, Sr., FB (2012-Honorable); Collin Laursen, Jr., DB (2012-Honorable); Ricky Marteney, Sr., PK (2010-Second); Tyler Naatz, Jr., DB (2012-Honorable); David Reyes, Sr., OL (2012-Second)

Head Coach: Lance Leipold; 7th season at UWW; 79-6
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Offense: 39/8
Letterwinners Returning/Lost on Defense: 37/6
Letterwinners Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/0
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 6/5
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 6/5
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/0
Returning All-WIAC: Ryan Cortez, Sr., LB (2011-Second, 2012-Honorable); Tyler Huber, Sr., WR (2011-First); Eric Kindler, Sr., Kicker/Punter (2011-First/Kicker, 2012-First/Kicker and 2012-Honorable/Punter); Cole Klotz, Sr., LB (2012-Second); Marcus McLin, Jr., DB (2012-Honorable); Loussaint Minett, Sr., DL (2012-First); Josh Williams, Sr., LB (2012-Honorable); Kyle Wismer, Sr., LB (2012-First)