For the first time since 2013, Concordia University Wisconsin’s football team has reached eight wins in a single season. The program has only earned this number of wins seven other times and has only matched its current winning percentage of 0.800 six different times in its 42-year program history. In CUW football’s program, the 2022 team ranks in the top seven for overall season statistics, and it isn’t over yet.
The Falcons are this year’s NACC Conference Runner-ups and have earned the opportunity to play in the first-ever Lakefront Bowl sponsored by Cousins Subs. The Falcons will be taking on the Fighting Scots of Monmouth (Illinois) this Saturday at Wisconsin Lutheran. CUW and Monmouth have only ever met before in 2004 and 2005, with the Fighting Scots coming out on top both times. Since this bowl game is new this year, it has been on the mind of head coach, Greg Etter, since the beginning of the season. He said, “They have created a bowl game that goes into effect this year for the highest-finishing team that does not make the playoffs, so that would be our second goal [after making the national playoffs].”
Junior running back Michael Joshua Jr., has had many scoring opportunities this season and is preparing for the final weekend of competition. “We didn’t get the outcome that we wanted in our last game. We have to go back to the drawing board and try to continue to get better.”
The team’s success leading to this point has come from many different places. Senior defensive back, Glenn Pearce said, “There’s a lot of freshmen who are making plays for us. A lot of young guys are getting the chance to step up.”
From the sophomore class, defensive back Gio Nowotarski and kicker Zach Heinen have both claimed multiple NACC weekly honors this season along with linebacker Justice Kaneta who has earned one. The underclassmen are not the only players on the team contributing to the team’s success. James Linn, a fifth-year quarterback, has thrown 1935 yards this year and has rushed 269. He threw a season-high of 255 yards to help lead CUW to victory over Lakeland on October 22. Another fifth-year player, wide receiver Tim Houlihan, started the season out strong with 137 receiving yards at Martin Luther on September 3.
The team’s success is attributed to long-time players as well as younger and newer players on the team. No team can succeed without good coaching. Jeff Walker, associate head and special teams coach, is retiring after 22 years with the Falcons. Walker has left an impact on this team both statistically and relationally. Pearce said, “Coach Walker is one of my favorite coaches. He’s put a lot of trust in me, being on special teams and trying to urge me to be a leader, especially on units like that because a lot of people overlook that stuff.”
Walker’s season special team statistics are also notable. From 2015 to 2018, he led the team’s all-time leader, Jacob Mason, in punts with 199 yards, punting yards with 7706 yards, and punting average in 2013 of 38.7 yards.
CUW competes in two annual trophy games: the Cheese Bowl, with Lakeland University, and the Luther Cup, with Wisconsin Lutheran College. This season, the Falcons brought home both trophies, a feat the program has not done since 2018.
The Falcons have the potential to enter the top five for winning seasons this Saturday, as well as the potential to earn nine wins and three trophies for the season. There is a lot riding on the team’s final weekend of play. The Falcons are looking forward to a historic weekend of football.
—Abigail McGue is a writer for The Beacon, the official student newspaper of Concordia University Wisconsin. She is currently a Junior at CUW and is excited to share the good news of Concordia with its students.
This article was originally published on November 17th, 2022.