Titans face ranked opponents, pass tough tests during season

Nate Proell

UW Oshkosh linebacker Jon Kallas lines up before the snap. The senior leads the team with 33 tackles on the season.
[/media-credit] UW Oshkosh linebacker Jon Kallas lines up before the snap. The senior leads the team with 33 tackles on the season.

At this point in the season, the UW Oshkosh Titans football team has passed every test that has been given to the squad, with the most recent being defeating top-10 ranked UW-Platteville. Sitting alone in first in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a record of 5-0, the mentality of the team is very positive.

However, the team does not let its success get to its head, and that includes respecting every opponent and taking each game just as seriously as the last.
Titans’ senior linebacker Jon Kallas can attest to the mentality the program preaches of finding success in every step of the way towards the overall goal of winning.

“Week by week,” Kallas said. “Every week we are seeking a new peak. We take it week by week, and it’s all about us, the opponent we face never changes that. The awesome part of our team is that we know that we lost a bunch of defensive guys last season, but every week we solidify our defense even better and better. We feel confident, but we do not get too high on ourselves.”

UWO has performed exceptionally well against ranked opponents in recent history.

In 2015, the Titans won both games in which they faced a ranked opponent. UWO defeated two ranked conference opponents after they defeated both UW-Whitewater and UW-Platteville.

In 2016, UW Oshkosh went 2-1 against ranked opponents in the regular season. UWO defeated John Carroll University in the 2016 season opener by a convincing score of 33-14.

The Titans were then defeated by second-ranked opponent UW-Whitewater by a score of 17-14. UW Oshkosh then defeated UW-Platteville later in the season 22-13.

The success versus ranked opponents has shown UW Oshkosh is comfortable playing against high-caliber teams.

The success has come from all three aspects of the game as the Titans strive to be balanced on offense, defense and special teams.

On offense, the step-by-step mentality carries over as well, and senior wide receiver Sam Mentkowski said that philosophy proves to help motivate the team.

“We had the ‘win the day’ motto, last year that was our team motto and I think that stuck around without being said,” Mentkowski said. “Every week is a new week, and we know that. Every day is another day to get better. Offensively I know we do that. We work to get better every single day. When we do have a bad practice it does bother us but it motivates us to get better the next day.”

The hard work and preperation has certainly shown as the Titans have gotten off to an undefeated start with just four games remaining in the regular season.

Senior starting quarterback Brett Kasper said when it comes to overall mentality both the offense and defense are on the same page.

“We knew last week against Platteville and this week against La Crosse are our two tough tests,” Kasper said. “We know La Crosse has a very high-powered offense so we are expecting a high scoring game, but our defense understands that, and they know that coach Cerroni knows what they need to do to shut that down.”

Often considered to be the best Division-III football conference in the country, being a team in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is no easy task. Senior running back Dylan Hecker said viewing each conference game as its own challenge helps in the overall process of winning.

“The beauty of this conference is you can’t take any game lightly,” Hecker said. “Top to bottom everyone is pretty good. So we just need to take it one game at a time. We know this is a long season and we have to keep guys healthy.”

Hecker said viewing each game as the main challenge is important in terms of team mentality. He said by focusing on nothing else but the task at hand the team gets a better grasp on how to view the season as a whole and also how to handle success without getting too comfortable.

“We feel good, we’ve had some big wins,” Hecker said. “However, we know that winning those games is not the main goal. We don’t get too high on ourselves, we don’t get too low. We just know that it is one game at a time. We can’t drop one because we know that plays a huge role throughout the rest of the season and in the playoffs. It gives us confidence that we have had some big wins, but we know there is still a lot to work for.”