Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Area football players flood college map

by Mike Ramczyk

September 01, 2011

High school football is off and running.

Big Foot is 2-0 and ranked third in the state in the Associated Press Medium Division poll. Badger registered a solid win Friday to improve to 1-1, but Williams Bay fell to 0-2 Friday and is still searching for its first win since the 2007 season.

This weekend marks the beginning of the college football season. And plenty of former local standouts are playing college football. A total of 18 players from Badger, Big Foot and Williams Bay will grace the college gridiron this fall. Big Foot leads the way with nine, followed by Badger's eight and one from the Bay.

Perhaps none are bigger, literally, than 2009 Big Foot graduate Travis Frederick. The 6-foot-4, 330-pound left guard will start Thursday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. against UNLV. He was the first true freshman to start on the offensive line at Wisconsin in 2009's season opener against Northern Illinois.

Frederick, a redshirt sophomore, will replace John Moffitt, an All-American who was taken in the third round of the 2011 NFL draft. Frederick, the 2009 Big Foot salutatorian, is a double major in computer science and engineering. Wisconsin comes off a 10-2 record and a Rose Bowl loss to TCU. With transfer quarterback Russell Wilson coming over from North Carolina State, many experts are picking the 11th-ranked Badgers to win the Big Ten and possibly contend for a national title.

About 45 minutes southeast in Walworth County, the Division 3 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks are looking for their third straight national championship. Whitewater has gone 15-0 the last two seasons and opens the season Saturday at 6 p.m. at UW-La Crosse. Badger 2010 graduate Joe Cychner plays on the defensive line. Also, freshman Dean Smith, a 2011 Big Foot graduate, will compete to get on the field, according to Big Foot coach Rodney Wedig. He is proud of all his former players.

"The thing I am most proud about is that these young men are good people and are continuing their education," Wedig said. "As a staff, we have prepared them to play at the next level."

Wedig's former players aren't just on teams, but they're making waves. Kyle Haeberlin, a senior starting defensive tackle for Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., is in his third year as a starter. He held the sack record at Big Foot until junior Garett Cary broke it last year. Also, Haeberlin was the last Big Foot player to have a successful drop kick extra-point.

Michael Crusan, a junior at Ripon College, saw considerable playing time last year as a wing back and is battling for a starting role this year. T.J. Schaid, a junior running back at Grinnell College, Iowa, was second team all-conference selection last year. He will be the team's featured runner this fall.

St. Cloud State sophomore Michael Walker played running back and special teams as freshman. This year, Walker will be part of a three-man threat at running back.

University of Dubuque (Iowa) sophomore Dustin Sorrentino started one game as a freshman at linebacker last year and made a good first impression, recording 17 tackles and a fumble recovery. Jon Petkoff, a sophomore at Ripon College, played special teams last year and is looking to break into the starting lineup as a safety. Freshman kicker Sean Kivlin has a decent shot at playing time at Carroll College, according to Wedig.

"This is not normal for kids to graduate high school and play so soon," Wedig said. "Many times, it takes two or three years before they even see the field."

Badger also features a plethora of college players. Brad Nugent, a 2011 Badger graduate, may get a redshirt in his freshman year at Division 1 Southern Mississippi University.

Other Badger grads you may see on the college fields this fall include 2009 graduates Jared Stan (UW-La Crosse) and Petr Bohacek (St. Norbert); 2010 graduates Jarek Kunz (St. Cloud State) and Nate Meinen (Carroll College); and 2011 grads Branden Allen (Ripon College) and Adam Van Schyndel (Carroll College).

"We are very proud of our former Badgers," coach Matt Hensler said. "They have all worked hard to take their games to the college level, and we enjoy seeing them play on Saturdays whenever we can."

A few miles west in the Bay, freshman Brock Baumbach will play at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls this fall. At 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, the defensive end is a powerhouse. Last year, he was awarded the "David Trophy," an award going to a player standing tall in the face of adversity. Bay coach Buddy Breen beamed about his former star.

"Brock is the epitome of hard work and dedication," Breen said. "I never had a player who put as much time and effort into his offseason training. Being involved with all the adversity over his career, he never complained once or quit. A dedicated personality combined with a true passion for everything he does will allow Brock to have a successful college football career."