Football eyes up next season


Ky McCombe

Senior Defensive back Mark McGrath (29) darts across the field escaping from University of Central’s players with the ball Saturday Dec. 4, 2021.

Mason Thompson, Assistant Campus News Editor

The UW-Whitewater football team finished its spring training in the final week of April and players will participate in various athletic camps this summer to prepare individually for the 2022 season ahead. The practices were filled excitement as the players look to improve upon their 2021 season that saw the team reach the semifinals of the Division III playoffs. The 2022 schedule could prove challenging for the Warhawks. 

While plenty will look forward, head coach Kevin Bullis emphasizes the learning experience that practice brings. 

“We always pride ourselves on the basics and fundamentals of the game,” Bullis said. “Due to the limitations that the NCAA gives us for our contact days in spring, we can’t do an 11 on 11. Because of this, we really focus on the fundamentals.” 

The players range from seasoned veterans to tryout members who have tried to show enough to get a spot in fall camp for a shot to make the 2022 season roster. Bullis is proud of all of the players for their hard work and determination this spring to get better. 

“In all reality, I don’t think there’s a guy that we haven’t seen significant improvement from,” Bullis said. “Spring sets the platform for fall camp. We get 16 spring practices in spring, and then when we come back in August, we already know the emphasis of the basics, but at that point we’re adding in the schematics part of the operation.” 

With a number of graduating Warhawks, the team has begun to adjust to new players in leadership positions this spring. Players like Thomas Wojnowski were learning not long ago, now he and others are teaching and leading the younger players.

“It definitely feels weird being considered an upperclassman when I’m not a senior,” Wojnowski said. “It’s amazing to see when you’re young that the older guys lead by example, and I’m trying to do that for the younger guys in our locker room.”

One of the younger players that has learned a lot since his arrival in Whitewater and throughout spring camp is Kamrin Hutt. He is a second-year linebacker who saw playing time on special teams. Led by Ryan Lizska and Aaron Sturdevant, Hutt is excited to learn and improve heading into his sophomore year. 

“Lizska is a very vital piece to the linebacker room,” Hutt said. “He’s very smart and knows the defense front to back. Whenever I have a question, he’s there to talk me through it and give me insight right away. He encourages a lot of the linebackers to study the playbook and focus on the little things. Plays change in the middle of the snap, things change so much from the huddle to the actual play. I feel like he’s a really good representation of teaching guys about when things go unexpectedly.” 

With spring practices now over, the Warhawks will take a break before returning for fall camp and taking on the 2022 schedule, which features a number of high profile matchups. The season will open against top ten teams St John’s (Minn.) and then the defending national champion Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX). Those kickoff a season in the toughest conference in all of Division III.

“We’re going to have as tough a non-conference schedule this year as we have in many years. We had a difficult one this past year, and fared pretty well,” Bullis said. “To me, the most important thing is finding opportunities for your players to develop. It’s about learning what we need to get better at individually and collectively. Being challenged, you really find out where your flaws are.” 

Most eyes will be set on the game against Mary Hardin-Baylor on Sept. 10, and it is one that Bullis has high hopes for. 

“My goal is to get 20,000 people in the Perk and make it as amazing as an experience for everyone, including players and people attending the event,” said Bullis. “The most important part about that game is us getting better, whether we win or lose, it gets us better for our conference play. Those games against St. John’s, Mary Hardin-Baylor and Berry prepare us to play in the best conference in the nation.”

The Warhawks had a successful spring camp and are excited to dive into the challenging 2022 schedule.

Freshman Running Back Tamir Thomas (26) wards off Senior Defensive back Jordan Wilson (0) from the opposing team near the Warhawk end zone during the home game against Berry College Saturday, Sept.18, 2021 (Ky McCombe)