Platteville, Wis. —The University of Wisconsin-Platteville football team finished the season with national, regional and conference recognition with a record of 8-2 that has not been matched since 1976.
"Overall, this was a great season for the football team as this has been one of our most successful seasons both on and off the field," said Mike Emendorfer, head coach. "We are very proud of what we have accomplished this year and the best is yet to come."
The Pioneers climbed the national rankings as high as 12th in the country American Football Coaches Association top 25 poll. The Pioneers' success was thanks to a stout defense and an explosive offense.
McWethy, a defensive back from Oregon, Ill., earned the 2012 AFCA Division III All-America Team. He is the first Pioneer since Mike Hintz in 1986 to earn AFCA All-America accolades. McWethy also earned All-West Region Third Team and first-team all-WIAC.
Magna earned second team all-conference and led the Pioneers with four interceptions for 74 yards and six broken up passes. He tallied 41 tackles including a game-high of nine versus UW-Stout.
"We have extraordinary players and an outstanding team chemistry," said Rob Erickson, defensive coordinator. "The seniors have helped transition this program into a nationally ranked team."
Snyder and Daino were the heart of the defense at the linebacker position. Snyder led the team with five sacks and added a blocked kick, a forced fumble and a recovered fumble earning his second straight first team all-conference honor. Daino led the team with two forced fumbles and added 62 tackles to his second-team all-WIAC resume.
Marks, a defensive lineman, earned his third-straight first team all-WIAC award and became the third Pioneer to receive three-consecutive first-team honors. He led the defensive line with 27 solo tackles and had a team-best 8.5 tackles for a loss.
"I am very proud of our team and our seniors. We are excited about the future with as many returning players as we have," said Emendorfer.
The Pioneer defense will definitely miss the senior leadership but they will return three all-conference honorees. Sophomore linebacker from Tampa, Fla., Jacob Zilbar, led the backers with 65 tackles and recorded six tackles for a loss and a pair of broken up passes and hits on the quarterback. Even though the Pioneers front three loses one of the best in program history they will rely on a pair of juniors, Bronzun Kyles and Alex Schaefer. Both defensive linemen earned second-team honors and combined for nine sacks and 46 tackles.
The Pioneer offense was the most efficient in school history. UW-Platteville was forced to use three quarterbacks due to injury as the Pioneer completed a program record, 71 percent of their passes. Sophomore Bryce Corrigan was handed the reins of the Pioneer offense in the middle of the game versus No. 4 UW-Whitewater. Corrigan went on to earn second-team all-conference and broke the single game touchdown record throwing seven touchdowns on his way to national player of the week in the 62-20 win over UW-Stout.
The Pioneers had a great group of wide receivers that helped propel the offense with a pair of all-WIAC honorees. Ryley Bailey earned first team honors and garnered national wide receiver of the week for his 11 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-19 victory over UW-Eau Claire. Sophomore Trevor Whitehead complimented Bailey with second team all-league honors. Whitehead averaged a team-best 14.8 yards per catch with 842 yard on 57 catches and eight touchdowns.
The Pioneer offense wouldn't have gone anywhere without the big men in the trenches. The offensive line only allowed five sacks in 434 pass attempts and helped the Pioneers average a school record 471.9 yards of total offense per game. Senior Tyler Miller and sophomores Tony Berry and Brian Lurquin anchored the offensive line. Miller earned first-team all-league honors while Berry garnered second team and Lurquin received honorable mention honors.
To go with the Pioneers' total offense record, UW-Platteville set the first downs (244), points (410), touchdown passes (33), and the passing percentage (71%) records.
"This was an absolutely great season. It was a culmination of hard work by our coaching staff and players," said Athletic Director Mark Molesworth. "We are very excited about the foundation they have built and the future of the Pioneers."
Written by: Eileen McGuine