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.
Well the football season is officially dying down. The WIAA State Championships concluded last Friday as seven different teams around the state were crowned champion. Division 2 and 3 football has entered the playoff/bowl season and Division 1 is entering the final week of the regular season. With all that being said, this will be the last installment of the Football Alumni Round-up for the 2019 season.
Look forward to an awards and all-conference article to come in the future.
We’re going to begin and end this edition of the round-up with two NFL linebackers that have been mentioned many a time in past editions. Both graduated from a Wisconsin High School, went on to be standouts at the University of Wisconsin and now are enjoying incredible careers at the pro level.
The first of that duo is TJ Watt. I think it is safe to say that TJ, a Pewaukee native, has bursted out of his older brother’s shadow and is making quite the name for him in the NFL. For the eighth straight game he recorded a sack as the Steelers beat the Bengals 16-10. TJ added two tackles for loss and a forced fumble to his game. He may very well be a front-runner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year as he is second in the NFL in sacks (11.5), first in forced fumbles (5), second in tackles for loss (17), and first in quarterback hits (25).
Two different WIAC teams made the Division 3 playoffs as UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater continued their seasons after an epic regular season finale.
Despite winning the WIAC and holding a 31-7 lead at half, Oshkosh fell 38-37 in overtime to Central College, coming up short on a game-winning two-point conversion attempt. Despite the loss, WIAC Newcomer of the Year Kobe Berghammer threw for 179 yards and two scores in defeat. The Cumberland grad added 114 yards on the ground and another score. Peter MacCudden (Waukesha West), Riley Kallas (Winneconne), and Mitchell Gerend (Southern Door), all got into the end zone as well.
Whitewater was undefeated before its regular season finale loss to Oshkosh. The Warhawks took care of business in the first round of the playoffs beating Monmouth College 35-10. Despite not starting a single game all season, Max Meylor, a Mount Horeb alum, took the reins at quarterback and completed 16 of 26 passes for 183 yards and four scores. Sparta’s Ryan Wisniewski hauled in six catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Kaleb Kaminski of Tomahawk had five tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery, while Thomas Wojnowski of Oak Creek recorded an interception.
The Wisconsin Badgers took care of business beating Purdue 45-24 over the weekend. Three former Badger state alums scored the ball as Garrett Groshek of Amherst had a rushing touchdown. Fullback Mason Stokke of Menomonie got his first ever rushing touchdown while receiver Jack Dunn of Madison Edgewood hauled in his first ever receiving score.
What was the biggest story though was a field goal just before half. St. Mary’s Spring’s Zach Hintze has handled kickoff duties for the Badgers for season. However as the first half ended, the big leg kicker lined up for his first field goal of the season, a 62 yarder. Zach squeaked the ball in with just enough room to set the school record for longest field goal.
In other Big Ten play, Kristian Welch has been the leader of the Iowa Hawkeye defense all season. That was no different Saturday in the 19-10 win over Illinois. Kristian, an Iola-Scandinavia grad, had a team high 12 tackles, including one and a half for loss. He added a sack and a forced fumble for the stifling Hawkeye defense.
Rice took home a 20-14 win over North Texas this past weekend and offensive lineman Isaac Klarkowski saw his first action. Isaac, a Green Bay Southwest grad, made his first collegiate start at center for Owls.
Will McDonald has been earning more and more playing time for the Iowa State Cyclones and it’s beginning to pay off. The Waukesha North alum recorded a pair of sacks as Iowa State downed Kansas 41-31. Will has recorded a sack in back-to-back games now.
Alex Bray hasn’t seen the field too often for the Drake Bulldogs in his four year career. However, in his last game, the Catholic Memorial grad got in and tossed a 13 yard touchdown to cap off his senior year in a 31-28 win over Davidson.
This year has been a year filled with ups and downs for Eastern Kentucky quarterback and Waukesha West grad Conor Blount. Conor began the year as the starter but saw his snaps decrease more and more throughout the year. This past weekend he took back the reins and led Eastern Kentucky to a 29-23 win over Jacksonville State. Conor threw for 172 yards and a score in the victory.
Tight end Brett Samson has come on strong down the stretch for the University of South Dakota. As the Coyote’s squared off with in-state rival and fifth ranked South Dakota State, Brett again rose to the occasion. The Oconomowoc grad caught six balls for 71 yards and two scores as the Coyotes upset the Jack Rabbits 24-21. Brett finished the season off by hauling in five touchdown passes in the final five games.
It should be said how vastly under appreciated Joe Schobert is in the NFL. He’s gone about his business as one of the top linebackers in the league without any of the fanfare or media attention the louder players in the league get.
Joe is a graduate of Waukesha West and did something no other Cleveland Brown linebacker has ever done. In a 41-24 win over the Miami Dolphins, Joe intercepted two passes for the second consecutive week. His second consecutive two interception day earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
As always, it has been an incredible season of football as the talent from the state of Wisconsin continues to surge. As noted earlier, stay tuned for an awards and all-conference article for football. If you’re needing to scratch that alumni itch, give the Boys Basketball Alumni Round-up a read and look out for the Girls Basketball Alumni Round-up to begin soon.
The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by PlayInTheDells.com. It highlights the players that have "made a splash" in the world of high school sports each week. If you have a nominee for Athlete of the Week please send it to Colton Wilson.
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