McHenry County Local News

On Campus: Marian Central grad Charlie Kramer playing part in Wisconsin-La Crosse’s unbeaten start

Wisconsin-La Crosse defensive back Charlie Kramer scores on a 24-yard interception return against Dakota State (S.D.).

Everywhere Charlie Kramer looks on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse football team’s defense, he sees experience.

“We’ve got a lot of veterans on the defensive side of the ball who’ve been in the program for quite some time,” said Kramer, a junior from Marian Central who starts at cornerback. “We have a solid understanding of not only our roles and responsibilities, but also those of other positions on the field.

“With that knowledge, we’re able to play confident and fast.”

Fast is how the NCAA Division III Eagles have started the season, with a 3-0 record that includes a 28-21 victory Sept. 17 against D-II Wayne State.

Kramer intercepted a fourth-quarter pass against Wayne State – his second pick of the season – to help secure the victory.

“It was a statement game for us, to let people know, ‘Hey, this is La Crosse football,” said Kramer, who attributes his big plays thus far to the team’s preparation. “That’s been successful for us week in and week out.”

In the Eagles’ season-opening 42-7 win against Dakota State (South Dakota), Kramer returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown.

Kramer credited the team’s coaches and players for their understanding of each week’s game plan and the Eagles’ schemes, along with technique, fundamentals and in-game situations, such as down and distance.

The Eagles’ aptitude has made them the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s best defense. La Crosse ranks No. 1 in the league in fewest points (10.3) and fewest yards (223.7) allowed per game. In three games, the Eagles have given up only three touchdowns.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, La Crosse plays its biggest game of the season to date and one that plenty of eyes will be watching nationally.

The Eagles, who are ranked No. 9 this week in the Top 25, host six-time D-III national champion, 38-time WIAC champ and No. 3-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater (2-1).

“We’re approaching it like any other game,” Kramer said of the series, which Whitewater leads, 38-32. “It’s going to come down to being confident in our schemes.”

Kramer and his teammates also will see a familiar face in Lake Zurich grad and Whitewater quarterback Evan Lewandowski, who started his career at La Crosse. Lewandowski threw for 301 yards and three touchdowns Sept. 10 in Whitewater’s 28-24 victory against then-No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor, the defending D-III national champ.

“We know they’ve got a quarterback who’s going to throw the ball,” Kramer said. “He spent some time here, so we know that.”

Evans runs wild: Prairie Ridge graduate Samson Evans was honored as the Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the Week and the Doak Walker Award National Running Back of the Week after his career night Sept. 17 in Eastern Michigan’s 30-21 victory at Arizona State.

Evans, a senior, rushed 36 times for 258 yards and a touchdown. His yardage total was the third-highest in a game in EMU history. Evans piled up 162 second-half yards to help the Eagles (2-2).

Entering this week’s games, Evans ranks second in the MAC in rushing yards per game at 104.5, which is 15th in the nation. He is one of only 20 Football Bowl Subdivision players averaging at least 100 yards a game.

Loras on a roll: Senior forward Abby Eriksen has five goals, including two game winners, this fall for the Loras College women’s soccer team, which is off to a 6-0-2 start.

Eriksen, a Prairie Ridge grad, has scored a goal in five consecutive games.

The Duhawks are ranked 16th this week in the Top 25 poll. Loras opened American Rivers Conference play Sept. 24 with a 6-0 victory against Nebraska Wesleyan. Eriksen scored in the 16th minute for Loras.

Winning at Coe: Nicholas Mattran (Prairie Ridge) has started every game this season at right guard for D-III Coe College, which is averaging 35.5 points a game.

The Kohawks (3-1) dominated Simpson, 48-10, last weekend to improve to 2-0 in the American Rivers Conference. Mattran, a junior, and the offensive line helped Coe pile up 181 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground against Simpson.

Schmitendorf shines: Eastern Kentucky junior libero Josie Schmitendorf (Huntley) is leading the team with 4.14 digs per set this fall and leads the Atlantic Sun Conference with 244 total digs.

Schmitendorf posted a career-best 25 digs Sept. 2 in a five-set win against South Carolina Upstate. She has achieved double-digit digs in 15 of the team’s 16 matches this season. EKU (10-6) is 1-1 in conference play.

• Barry Bottino writes about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.