New players, same success

Football mid-season update


Katie McIlheran

UW-Whitewater quarterback Evan Lewandowski (#10), Steven Hein (#17), Jaylon Edmonson (#6), Nathan Miller (#72), Zach Sherman (#81), and Michael Coates (#88), are seen here walking back to the line of scrimmage after the previous play against Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) Sept. 10 2022.

Ryan Baker, Men’s Sports Assistant Editor

Many offenses crumble as soon as one or two of their top players leave their program, however it is the complete opposite for the UW-Whitewater offense this year. Not only have they been producing more than almost any Warhawk offense to date, but they lost ten starters. Eleven start, ten are new and that is a recipe for disaster, most times.

The Warhawks began the year with a loss to St. John’s University, but have bounced back with four straight wins that have included a takedown of top team in the nation, Mary Hardin-Baylor, with others being Berry College, UW-La Crosse, and UW-Eau Claire. The recent streak has the Warhawks placed as the third best team in the country, which puts a big target on their backs every week, and head coach Kevin Bullis understands that.

“That is something that we talk about weekly. Part of that though, we have to understand that what you see on the film is not what you’re going to see on Saturday,” Bullis said. “There is no doubt for every team that plays us that on their schedule that that is bolded. It’s in a 24 size font, not a ten size font. Teams have nothing to lose when they play us, and I do not say that arrogantly. They cut loose and play at an extreme level.”

Through the first five games of the season, the tandem of offensive coordinator Nick Pesik and senior quarterback Evan Lewandowski are scoring at least 20 points per game and compiling nearly 400 total yards, contributing to the team’s 4-1 record.

A few factors that play into this stellar offense are the lone returning starter, wide receiver Tyler Holte, and breakout sophomore in Steven Hein and the new offensive line. That group in the trenches this year are spoken highly of by Lewandowski and Bullis.

“The group that I’m really excited about, and the group that never gets any recognition is the offensive line,” Bullis said. “Our offensive line at the beginning of the season, none of these guys have started a game, none of them. They are lunch pail guys man. They show up to work every single day. They bring their hard hats and they bring their lunch pails.”

“It’s been really fun so far,” Lewandowski said. “Those are my guys right now, I love all of them, and they work so hard.”

UW-Whitewater quarterback Evan Lewandowski (#10) is seen here calling the play to the offensive line against Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) Sept. 10 2022. (Katie McIlheran)

Lewandowski has thrown for 12 touchdowns and 1315 yards so far on the year, with a mere four interceptions. Perhaps having a system that he was familiar with that Pesik brought in this year has worked in his favor. That has resulted in him having an already career year for Lewandowski and is something he credits to everyone but himself.

“I could thank a lot of people along the way including some of my teammates right now. This year specifically I would contribute it to coach Pesik. He’s been coaching me up every single day helping me achieve those one percent goals every single day and every single week,” Lewandowski said. “Also I want to thank my teammates, because in our quarterback room, those guys push me every day. I’m constantly asking them questions, and they keep me calm. I want to thank coach Pesik and all of my other coaches at Whitewater and all my teammates, without them I’m not doing anything close to what I am right now.”

Last season it was typically to win in blowouts, however this year each game is close, including two last second wins over Mary Hardin-Baylor and UW-La Crosse. The close games put more pressure on the defense to make clutch stops late in the game, but that’s something, as a unit, they look forward to.

“Throughout the week we prepare very well. We work really hard. We fall back on our preparation,” Egon Hein said. “There’s not a ton of pressure, obviously there’s a little bit, but pressure is privilege. Those are the games that are fun and exciting. Those are the games that we are going to learn the most about our team, about ourselves, and as teammates.”

The Warhawks play in Perkins Stadium for the majority of the remaining schedule. UW-Oshkosh, UW-River Falls, and UW-Stevens Point all have to travel to the Perk, which Lewandowski is looking forward to.

“I love away games, but playing at the Perk is different. We got the greatest fans, the students that come, and ultimately we get all of our guys on the sideline,” Lewandowski said. “That’s probably my favorite part, because we practice together and go through the process together. We get all of our guys, all of our coaching staff on the sideline, and getting a win in the Perk there’s no feeling like it.”

With Family Fest and Homecoming in two of the three remaining home games, the Warhawks are hoping to continue their success. As the newer team gels together and with Lewandowski playing at a high-level, success seems to be in right in the headlights of one of the best teams in the country.