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Football Alumni Round-up: Week 1

09/07/2023, 1:15pm CDT
By Colton Wilson

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

If you missed last week's Division 1 preview, click here to see the over 250 athletes that are suiting up around the nation.

Division 1 - FBS

Two days prior to the opening Saturday slate, Minnesota and Nebraska went to overtime in a Big Ten West matchup. Oak Creek grad Dragan Kesich gave the Gophers a 13-10 overtime win by kicking thru a 47 yard field goal to win it. Kesich finished two of three on field goal attempts and his clutch game-winner earned him Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Teammate and Saint Croix Falls grad Tyler Cooper earned his first start on the offensive line.

It took a whole game to get going, but the Wisconsin Badgers got their first win of the Luke Fickell regime, defeating Buffalo 38-17. Fond du Lac grad and a top running back in the nation, Braelon Allen led the way for the Badgers with 141 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. He had a personal high seven catches for 25 yards. Chimere Dike of Waukesha North secured his ninth receiving score for Bucky while Muskego's Hunter Wohler led the defense with 11 tackles.

HOPE Christian school is no more in the state of Wisconsin. However, a former grad got his first reception at the Division 1 level this past weekend. Malcolm Gillie suits up for Ball State after spending two seasons at Ellsworth CC. Gillie recorded his first career reception in the 44-14 Ball State loss to Kentucky.

Northern Illinois has always been a haven for Wisconsin bred football players and that is no different this year. In the Huskies 27-24 win over Boston College, a few Badger alums stood out. Fullback Brock Lampe of Kenosha Bradford scored his first ever touchdown. Defensively Racine Park's Rashein Thomas led the team with six tackles while Milwaukee King grad JaVaughn Byrd had an interception and Whitnall's Nate Valcarcel had five tackles.

Carson Hinzman, one of the top players out of the state from the Class of 2022, redshirted last year for the Ohio State Buckeyes. This year, in his redshirt freshman season, the Saint Croix Central standout has taken hold of a starting spot on the offensive line from day 1 for one of the top teams in the entire nation.

The offensive line export from Wisconsin is no joke. Here is a list of the following lineman who started at a FBS school on opening weekend, minus those mentioned above.

  • Tanor Bortolini, Kewaunee - 16th start for Wisconsin
  • Jack Nelson, Stoughton - 26th start for Wisconsin
  • Marcus Mbow, Wauwatosa East - 15th start for Purdue
  • Davis Heinzen, Manitowoc Lincoln - 13th start for Central Michigan
  • Mickey Rewolinski, Union Grove - 11th start for Eastern Michigan
  • Evan Buss, Kimberly - 9th start for Northern Illinois
  • John Champe, Brookfield East - 12th start for Northern Illinois
  • JJ Lippe, Whitefish Bay - 21st start for Northern Illinois

Donavan Hunt of Brookfield East

Division 1 - FCS

The Missouri Valley Conference is arguably the best FCS conference in all of college football. That same conference is home to the most Wisconsin alumni outside of the Big Ten.

North Dakota State, a perennial power in the FCS beat Eastern Washington 35-7 and got contributions across the board from Badger State athletes. Sparta alum Cole Wisniewski had a game high 11 tackles and added an interception for the Bison defense. Sam Jung of Neenah and Dylan Hendricks of Pulaski combined for seven tackles in their extended playing time. Offensively River Falls grad Joe Stoffel hauled in four catches for 28 yards and two scores.

The in-state Fighting Hawks of North Dakota saw similar production from alumni in a 55-7 win over Drake. Donavan Hunt spent last season playing for Deion Sanders at Jackson State, but transferred to North Dakota this year. The Brookfield East standout rushed three times for 65 yards and two scores. Defensively Sun Prairie grad Kadon Kauppinen led a defense littered with alumni by tallying a team high six tackles. Easton Kilty of Stratford recorded his 26th start on the offensive line, proving the Fighting Hawks get contributions in every facet of the game from former Wisconsin High School football standouts.

St. Thomas Minnesota is still early in its dive into Division 1 football, but the Tommies took down Black Hills State 36-26 in their 2023 season opener. Waukesha West grad Tak Tateoka serves as the backup quarterback and the true freshman saw meaningful snaps this week. Tateoka completed his only pass attempt and rushed for 19 yards. Marquette University grad Langston Robinson got his first start on the offensive line for the Tommies in the win.

Though Syracuse defeated Colgate 65-0, one last former alumni got his first start on an offensive line. Miles Salinas of De Pere got his first start in the trenches in his third year on campus.

Kyle Walljasper of Fond du Lac

Division 2

It'd be easier to list the players that contribute on the Minnesota Duluth team not from Wisconsin, that to list the alumni. The two-deep of the Bulldogs has more former standouts than any other team in Division 1 or 2. Last week Duluth beat Northern Michigan 47-10. Fond du Lac grad Kyle Walljasper is the signal caller and he had 149 yards and two scores on the ground while adding 55 yards and three scores through the air. Appleton North grad Sam Pitz and DaShaun Ames of Cumberland both had receiving scores. The defense will be highlighted in later weeks as almost every spot is filled with a Badger State alum.

Former SJNMA standout Donald Austin is in his second year as the starting running back for Southwest Minnesota State. Last week in a 28-23 win over Minot State, Austin was a workhorse. He rushed 26 times for 154 yards and a score to lead the Mustangs to victory.

Jack Strand was busy at the quarterback position for Minnesota State-Moorhead in their 31-23 loss to Wayne State. The Bloomer grad passed it 58 times, completing 42, for 351 yards and three scores. What's more surprising than the sheer amount of times he dropped back? Strand had a reception from himself on the day.

Division 3

UW-River Falls had probably the biggest win in all of Division 3 college football this past weekend. River Falls beat down third-ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor 45-22. Aaron Borgerding led the Falcons defense that held Hardin-Baylor to -5 rushing yards! The Spring Valley grad had a team high seven tackles and an interception en route to being named the WIAC Defensive Player of the Week. Gage Timm (Shawano) Connor McKenzie (Sheboygan South) and Kaiden Sell (Neenah) all recorded a tackle for loss for the Falcons. River Falls jumped from 23rd to 9th in the rankings.

In other WIAC play, UW-Oshkosh held off Texas Lutheran 48-31 as the offensive output was almost all former standouts. Quarterback and Cumberland grad Kobe Berghammer was astounding as a signal caller. He competed 24 of 34 passes for 382 yards and a school record seven touchdowns. Berghammer was named the WIAC Offensive Player of the Week for his crazy performance. Wideout Tony Steger of Kewaskum hauled in five of those passes for 139 yards and three scores. Clayton Schwalbe of Waukesha North had five catches for 73 yards and two scores and Trae Tetzlaff of Waukesha West and Bryce Huettner of Iola-Scandinavia both also had receiving touchdowns.

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