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 10 p.m. on Tuesdays.
This first edition of the Football Alumni Article for the year of 2019 will be a doozy, as we look back on the first three weeks of college and professional football from around the country. This year, like many years past, is littered with talent from the state of Wisconsin showcasing their skills at the collegiate and professional level of football.
We’ll start at the highest level of them all, the NFL. Dare Ogunbowale spent his first two years out of college on practice squads around the NFL, but it appears he’s found his footing in Tampa Bay. In the Buccaneer’s opening weekend 31-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the former Marquette High School and UW-Wisconsin standout tied the team high with four catches for 33 yards. Those were Dare’s first ever NFL touches.
Nathan Stanley is now in his third year starting for the Iowa Hawkeyes and it looks to be the beginning of his best. Iowa is 3-0 to begin the year and ranked 18th in both the AP and Coaches Poll. The former Menomonie standout has been a huge reason why. Through the three games, Stanley has thrown for nearly 700 yards and six touchdowns, adding another score on the ground. On the other side of the ball, Kristian Welch of Iola-Scandinavia has recorded at least six tackles in each of the three games, leading the team with eight in the first two contests.
The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference features a pair of former Ashwaubenon High School quarterbacks taking the reigns of their Division 2 football programs.
Will Ark has thrown for over 300 yards and two scores for Michigan Tech in their two victories. He’s added three rushing touchdowns on the ground while leading his team to victory. He’s completed 56% of his passes with a 108.3 efficiency rating.
The other former Ashwaubenon standout, Ryan Johnson, is coming back from a 2018 year that saw him sidelined for Northern Michigan all year with an injury. In an opening 30-9 win over McKendree University, Johnson completed 10 of 14 passes for 130 yards and three scores.
The Wisconsin Badgers have come out of the gate looking extremely impressive outscoring their first two opponents 110-0. The offense has clicked on all cylinders and is led up front by a group of five former Wisconsin high school football alumni. Logan Bruss (Kimberly), Josh Seltzner (Columbus), Tyler Biadasz (Amherst), Jason Erdmann (Slinger), and Cole Van Lanen (Bay Port) form the offensive line that has led them to 1,034 yards of total offense through two games. Defensively, Leo Chanel of Grantsburg has led the team in tackles in both contests, while Matt Henningsen of Menomonee Falls recovered a fumble forced by Brown Deer’s Zack Baun and returned it for a 16 yard touchdown against South Florida.
As indicated from above, the state of Wisconsin is known for producing offensive lineman for many programs across the country. Five made their first starts for programs outside of Wisconsin in week one. That list includes; Luke Goedeke (Valders) for Central Michigan, Jon Gaines II (Marquette) for UCLA; Jarrett Horst (Middleton) for Arkansas State; Kian Rexroat-Potts (Oconomowoc) for South Dakota; and Brandon Malkow (Beloit Turner) for Western Illinois.
The Division 2 Northern Sun Conference has many former Badger State football players on rosters throughout the conference.
Former Germantown standout Dwayne Lawhorn is in his third season starting at quarterback for a St. Cloud State team that has many and more former alumni. Through two games this season, the two-time NSIC Honorable Mention All-Conference selection has thrown for over 300 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. Lawhorn has added two scores on the ground as well.
Bemidji State is another of those NSIC teams with many former Badger State kids contributing on both sides of the ball. Former DeForest wideout Bryce Duffy has three touchdown receptions through the first two weeks. Kettle Moraine Lutheran’s Jared Henning took the reins at quarterback last week in a 52-7 win over Mary and went 17 of 22 for 191 yards and four scores.
In week one, Dalton Smerchek, formerly of Luxemburg-Casco, led Concordia-St. Paul with nine tackles in their 41-17 win over Sioux Falls. Smerchek added one and a half tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery en route to earning NSIC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Brandon Perce has been a force for Bowling Green despite the team experiencing a pair of blowouts to begin the year. The West Allis Central High School product has recorded eight tackles in both games, including an interception in the team’s 35-7 loss to Louisiana Tech this past weekend.
St. Scholastica University is getting great contributions from former Altoona standout Mitchell Adrian. Through two weeks, Adrian has an incredible 24 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. He added 80 rushing yards and a score in week two’s 41-13 win over Presentation College. Mitchell is second in all of Division 3 football with 24 catches. His defensive teammate Cal Germain of Osceola High School had 11 tackles, three for loss, and two sacks in the opening 42-35 win over Mayville State. Germain was named the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
Another Division 3 wideout has been red hot to start the season. Plymouth High School’s Samuel Staehling has been incredible catching the ball for St. Norbert College in 1-1 start. In week one, Sam had 10 catches for 203 yards and three touchdowns in a 50-40 loss to Aurora College. He followed that up with five catches for 172 yards and two scores in a 27-21 win over UW-Eau Claire. Sam leads all of Division three with 375 receiving yards.
Justin Growel of East Troy has been phenomenal to begin the year for Lake Erie Colleg. Last week Growel recorded nine tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in a 13-9 loss to Davenport. Despite the L in the win/loss column, Justin was named the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week.
Like many Division 2 and 3 conferences around the midwest, the WIAC is packed with talent from across the state.
This past week UW-Stevens Point edged out Wabash College 31-28. Edgar High School alum Matt Urmanski was incredible at the quarterback position, throwing for 329 yards and three scores as he was named the WIAC Offensive Player of the Week. Teammate and punter Carter Unger of Waukesha South booted the ball three times, averaging 42.3 yards per punt. He pinned two inside the 20 garnering him WIAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
UW-LA Crosse’s defense was advantageous and all around the ball this past weekend in a 33-27 overtime win over Illinois Wesleyan. Sussex Hamilton’s Joey Bolda had an INT while Zach Pierce of West Salem returned an interception 54 yards for a score. In overtime, Cudahy’s Rusty Murphy recovered a fumble and returned it 86 yards for a score, securing the win. Lastly, Joey Roth of Stevens Point had nine tackles, a sack and three interceptions to earn WIAC Defensive Player of the Week honors.