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.
As we near the end of the regular season in college football, the division 2 and 3 seasons have entered the playoffs. Only a few teams made the playoffs and have advanced with Badger State alumni on its roster. Therefore, the majority of the spotlight this week rests on the division 1 and professional athletes.
Dare Ogunbowale has spent the first part of the NFL season on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad. This past weekend he saw his first NFL action of the year in a 38-35 loss to the New York Giants. Ogunbowale, a Marquette High School grad had kick return duties and ended the game with 7 returns for 137 total yards.
Iowa football has been led offensively by former Menomonie quarterback Nate Stanley all season. The junior quarterback has led the Hawkeyes to a 7-4 record and a 63-0 shutout win over Illinois this past weekend. Stanley threw for 178 yards and three touchdowns for the Hawkeyes. Monona Grove’s Toren Young took advantage of his opportunities and rushed for 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns as well. Defensively, Kristian Welch has been a playmaker all season. The Iola-Scandinavia alum finished the game with five tackles, half a sack, and an interception.
In the Wisconsin Badger’s thrilling 47-44 triple overtime victory over Purdue, the guys up front opened up many rushing lanes that led running back Jonathan Taylor to compile 321 yards on the ground. Kimberly’s Logan Bruss got his first start at right tackle and along with fellow offensive lineman, Beau Benzschawel (Grafton), Jon Dietzen (Seymour), and Tyler Biadasz (Amherst) led the Badgers to another stellar running performance.
One of those division 3 teams that did play in the playoffs this past weekend was UW-Whitewater. In their 67-14 first round win over Eureka, many athletes contributed. The offense line of Kyle Gannon (Waukesha West), Matthew Saager (Lodi), Quinn Meinerz (Hartford), and Nate Trewyn (Milton) led the Warhawk offense to 500 yards of rushing and nearly 650 total yards. Running back Ronny Ponick (Stanley-Boyd) rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Ryan Wisniewski (Sparta) rushed twice for 83 yards and two scores while Preston Strasburg (Fort Atkinson) added 75 yards and a touchdown.
Tight ends seemed to thrive this week in Missouri Valley play with regards to in-state alumni.
Nate Jenson hauled in two catches for 78 yards and a score in North Dakota State’s 65-17 win over Southern Illinois. The Waupaca High School alum has had over 150 receiving yards and two scores combined in the past two games.
In South Dakota State’s 49-27 win over South Dakota, a tight end for each team found the end zone. Brett Samson of Oconomowoc hauled in his third touchdown of the season for South Dakota. From the other sideline, Germantown’s Blake Kuncz recorded his second touchdown of the season for South Dakota State.
In other Missouri Valley play, Illinois State was helped to a 35-28 win over Youngstown State by a couple of defensive alumni. Mitchell Brees of Greendale High School had four tackles, an interception, and broke up three other passes. Linebacker Ty DeForest of Marshall recorded eight tackles and a sack.
The other division 3 team to see playoff action this weekend also got a victory as St. Norbert beat Trine University 31-7 behind the play of quarterback Drew Rhodes. The Waukesha West alum rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Defensively, Ben Kornowski (Green Bay Preble) had six tackles, one and a half for loss, a sack, and hauled in two interceptions. Cameron Hackl (Bay Port) and Nate Essman (Mukwonago) also contributed defensively as the duo combined for two tackles for loss, a sack, and a forced fumble.
Drake football has been highlighted multiple times this season and rightfully so as many former Wisconsin High School athletes have been making huge impacts on the team. Maybe the most mentioned has been wide receiver Steven Doran of Germantown High School. In Saturday’s 43-6 win over Morehead State, Doran hauled in five catches for 159 yards and two scores, bringing his season total up to 12. Alex Bray of Catholic Memorial High School threw for his first score of the season. The big story though was linebacker Alex Rogers. The former Racine Case standout had a game high 16 tackles, including four for loss. Rogers was named the Pioneer Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week.
Minnesota Duluth lost 33-17 to Texas A&M University – Commerce in the first round of the division 2 playoffs this past weekend. It wasn’t for lack of effort on the defensive side, as the defense accounted for both touchdowns. Big Foot’s Gus Wedig had a team high 12 tackles and also returned an interception 80 yards for a score. Nate Pearson of Northwestern High School had two tackles but also returned an interception 29 yards for the other touchdown.
It seems there’s a game going on between the Watt brothers of Pewaukee High School on who is going to have more sacks on the season in the NFL. Coming into the weekend, J.J Watt had nine for the Houston Texans, while younger brother T.J. trailed by one, with eight. J.J. recorded his tenth sack of the season as the Texans beat the Washington Redskins 23-21. Not to be outdone or fall behind, T.J. recorded his ninth and tenth sacks in a 20-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. That is the third game in which T.J. has recorded multiple sacks.