Many high school football standouts in Wisconsin go on to big things at the college level and in the pros, and this is our spot to recognize those athletes each week and help you keep up with what is going down on some of your favorite players from the past. If you have alumni news, please send it to Colton Wilson by 4 p.m. on Tuesdays.
Last week we saw the college football season rev into high gear and many athletes from around the state play superbly. This week saw the NFL season begin and many homegrown players started it with a bang. In fact, of the 30 NFL teams that played last weekend, an astounding four, were led in tackles by in-state athletes.
Former UW-Madison and Pewaukee High School standout T.J. Watt made his first NFL game a memorable one. He recorded 7 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 interception for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 21-18 win over the Cleveland Browns, earning him NFL Defensive Rookie of the Week. On the other side of the ball, Joe Schobert from Waukesha West, led the Browns with 9 tackles.
Trae Waynes (Kenosha Bradford) recorded a team high 11 tackles for the Minnesota Vikings while opponent A.J. Klein (Kimberly) also recorded a team high 11 tackles for the New Orleans Saints. Klein’s teammate and former Stevens Point graduate Ryan Ramczyk made his first start at left tackle. Elsewhere, Bryan Witzmann (Somerset) started his first NFL game at left guard for Kansas City in the Chief’s 42-27 win over the New England Patriots.
Oconomowoc graduate Casey Bednarski had himself a career day on Saturday. The Minnesota State Mankato kicker went 4-4 on field goals in Mankato’s 56-19 win over Minnesota Crookston. His longest, a 63 yard boot, set a school and Northern Sun Conference record. Bednarski’s performance earned him Northern Sun Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
Each week the WIAC announces its players of the week, and this week saw three players from the state receive those honors. Punter Owen Schommer (Prescott), WIAC Special Team’s Player of the Week, punted five times and landed three inside the 20 yard line as UW-River Falls beat Gustavus 20-12. Levi Wolf of UW-Stout recorded 7 tackles and 2 interceptions in a 25-22 win over St. Thomas (MN). This performance garnered him WIAC Defensive Player of the Week honors. The WIAC Offensive Player of the Week went to UW-La Crosse’s Nick Holcombe (Germantown). The wideout recorded 10 catches for 263 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 45-14 win over Ripon College.
In other WIAC action, UW-Oshkosh got first career touchdowns from Jayden Essman (Burlington), JP Peerenboom (Kimberly), Johnny Duranso (Arrowhead), and Mitchell Gerend (Southern Door). These helped Oshkosh to a 74-7 win over Virginia Lynchburg. Also, Bryce Leszczynski (Pius XI) recorded an astounding 17 tackles in UW-Whitewater’s 25-17 loss to Concordia (MN).
After throwing for 3 touchdowns in Iowa’s opening weekend victory, sophomore quarterback Nathan Stanely outdid himself this weekend. The Menomonie graduate threw for 333 yards and 5 touchdowns in the Hawkeye’s 44-41 come from behind victory over Iowa State. That performance led Stanley to be named Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week.
Other Big Ten action saw former Rice Lake standout Austin Roberts record his first career rush for the University of Illinois in their 20-7 win over Western Kentucky. Elsewhere, Robert Windsor (Fond du Lac) wreaked havoc on the University of Pittsburgh offense, recording a sack, forced fumble, and fumble recovery in Penn State’s 33-14 win.
J.D. Leisemann (Fall River) terrorized UW-Eau Claire’s backfield as he recorded 3 sacks for Wisconsin Lutheran in their 34-20 loss.
In FCS action, two wide receivers had phenomenal days for their respective teams. Madison Memorial alumnus, Daurice Fountain had 75 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns to help Northern Iowa to a 45-38 win over Cal Poly. Mitch McFarlane (Winnebago Lutheran) went a step further and had 7 catches for a career high, 152 yards and 3 touchdowns in Drake’s 55-14 rout of Southwestern (KS).
Lastly, Max Meylor, a graduate of Mount Horeb High School, saw his first action at quarterback for Lindenwood University and threw for his first career touchdown in a 49-10 victory over Northeastern State.