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UW-L not overlooking ranked NAIA opponent in home-opener

UW-L not overlooking ranked NAIA opponent in home-opener

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The University of Wisconsin Crosse is finally going to play a home game and, for the second consecutive week, it will be against a ranked opponent.

Dickinson State (1-1) is ranked No. 20 in the NAIA, after a 21-10 loss last week — dropping from a No. 13 ranking.

UW-L coach Mike Schmidt, on WKTY’s Eye on the Eagles last night at the Eagle’s Nest, has high expectations for his quarterback Ben Schramski.

“Ben Schramski has to win us some games,” Schmidt said. “This is a big game to get him ready for what’s about to come in the conference season.”

The WIAC schedule gets underway next week with UW-Whitewater.

Schramski was the conference offensive player of the week last week with 285 yards passing, 77 more rushing and three total touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing) in a 34-31 win — which came on field goal at the final gun against 21st ranked Illinois-Wesleyan.

The Eagles passing game is off to a good start. Quarterbacks have thrown for more than 500 yards and five touchdowns in the first two games — Schramski had 119 yards, 3 TDs in the air in a 52-21 Week 1 win over Luther.

But, with every great quarterback are great receivers.

Cole Spieker leads the team with eight receptions for 190 yards, while Dominic Labellarte has seven grabs for 109 yards this season. The two have all five touchdown receptions.

Labellarte credits his receivers coach, Isaac Fruechte, for their success.

“Coach Fruechte knows a lot about the game,” Labellarte said of the former Minnesota Viking. “If you just listen to him and really trust him and do techniques that he tells you to do, you’re going to perform well.”

Fruechte is a Caledonia, Minn., native who played wideout at the University of Minnesota before signing with the Minnesota Vikings in 2015 as an undrafted free agent. He also spent time with the Detroit Lions.

Aside from the offense, Schmidt also gave some praise to his special teams, which are a little more special than normal.

Freshman kicker Ryan Bierne, the former West Salem High School standout, is perfect on field goals and 90 percent on extra points.

Bierne’s 20-yard field goal won the game last week but Schmidt added that it’s his overall ability that makes him so dangerous.

“He’s spectacular and to have him in that kind of a role as a kicker … in Week 1, we faked the extra point with him, where he has the run-pass option and runs in and converts,” Schmidt said. “Then he has the fake punt. It just opens up what you can do.”

Gametime for Dickinsons State at UW-L is set for 1 p.m. Saturday and can be heard online here or on the radio at 96.7 FM and 580 AM.

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