WISCONSIN SPORTS BRIEFS: UWRF, state small college football season begins this weekend
The football season begins this weekend for 17 Wisconsin schools in the NCAA's Division III. UW River Falls hosts Saint John's of Minnesota tonight. All the other games are set for tomorrow.
UW Eau Claire plays at Saint Thomas of Saint Paul, which was ranked second in the D3football.com preseason poll. No. 9 Whitewater hosts Washington of Saint Louis. No. 11 Platteville is at home against Buena Vista. 12th-ranked Oshkosh plays at Central. Three other WIAC teams will make their non-conference season debuts tomorrow. UW-Stout is at home in Menomonie against Dakota Wesleyan. Stevens Point hosts Rockford. And La Crosse entertains Dubuque. In other games, Carroll hosts Lakeland. Concordia-Mequon is at home against Augsburg. Lawrence plays at Cornell. Maranatha Baptist opens at Martin Luther. Saint Norbert plays John Carroll in Bridgeview, Illinois. Beloit College hosts Chicago. And Ripon College opens at Wisconsin Lutheran in Milwaukee.
Rookie running back Eddie Lacy is ready to start on Sunday as the Green Bay Packers' Number-One rusher. But coach Mike McCarthy expects to get plenty of use from his other running backs, as the Pack opens its regular season at San Francisco. DuJuan Harris would have been the Number-two back, but he's out for the year with a knee injury. That means James Starks could get a lot of carries as Lacy's prime backup. Running backs' coach Alex Van Pelt says it's critical to keep Lacy fresh and not overwork him, especially early in the season. Van Pelt says Starks is a proven back who had a healthy Training Camp, averaging just over three yards per carry in the pre-season. Rookie Johnathan Franklin will be the Number-three back for Green Bay.
Green Bay Packers' safety Morgan Burnett and inside linebacker Brad Jones are both listed as questionable for Sunday's season opener at San Francisco. Coach Mike McCarthy said after practice this afternoon that both players continue to have sore hamstrings -- and the coach says he's just being smart with those players. Corner Casey Hayward was ruled out earlier in the week, with a lingering hamstring injury.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series is holding its final race this weekend before the season-ending Chase for the championship begins next week. Matt Kenseth of Cambridge qualified last month for the Chase, so there's no drama involving him. He's sixth in the Sprint Cup point standings, going into the Federated Auto Parts 400 tomorrow night. Beloit-born Danica Patrick is also entered, along with Paul Menard of Eau Claire and Travis Kvapil of Janesville. Kenseth is also driving in the Nationwide Series' Virginia College Savings 250 tonight in Richmond. He took third in a practice run, with a top speed of 123-point-604 miles an hour. The Camping World Truck Series is at Newton Iowa for the Iowa-200 on Sunday. Johnny Sauter of Necedah, who's 10th in the Truck Series' point standings, is the only Wisconsin driver in that event.
Milwaukee will host the U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship, today through Sunday at the Community Sailing Center. Twenty-one disabled participants will set sail -- including Pewaukee native John Ruf, who will compete in a 13-foot eight-inch boat designed by Peter Norlin of Sweden. Ruf took third place in the 2008 Paralympic Games. He says he looks forward to being at home, after going to Europe so often in order to compete.
Milwaukee Brewers' outfielder Khris Davis hurt his left wrist today. He left batting practice late this morning at Wrigley Field in Chicago, where the Brewers were opening a weekend series against the Cubs this afternoon. Davis was listed as day-to-day. Logan Schafer took Davis's spot in left-field for today. Unlike Davis, Schafer bats left-handed -- and he'll face a Cubs' starter who's been tough against lefties. Chris Rusin has only allowed left-handers to bat .190 against him this season. Right-hander Kyle Lohse is starting for the Brew Crew.
The Brewers have named right-hander Johnny Hellweg as their Minor League Pitcher-of-the-Year, and first baseman Jason Rogers as their top position player. Hellweg was just recently named the Triple-"A" Pacific Coast League's pitcher-of-the-year. The 24-year-old right-hander spent most of the season at Nashville, where he went 12-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 23 starts. He led the league with a .706 winning percentage and an opponents' batting average of .228. Hellweg struggled during an earlier stint with the Brewers this season -- but he's back again as part of the Crew's September call-ups. The 25-year-old Rogers played the entire year at Double-"A" Huntsville. He batted .270 in 133 games with 22 homers. Rogers led the Southern League in RBI's with 87.