Eagles prep for home opener

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Eagles prep for home opener

The Ashland University football team runs out onto the field prior to a game against Ohio Dominican in 2018

The Ashland University football team runs out onto the field prior to a game against Ohio Dominican in 2018

Zach Read

The Ashland University football team runs out onto the field prior to a game against Ohio Dominican in 2018

Zach Read

Zach Read

The Ashland University football team runs out onto the field prior to a game against Ohio Dominican in 2018

Zach Read, MANAGING EDITOR OF THE COLLEGIAN

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The offseason is filled with hard, long hours of tireless work in the summer sun at the Jack Miller Stadium in Ashland, Ohio.

However, the old has gone and the new has come as the smell of fall is in the air and the Ashland University football team prepares for their home opener on Thursday against the University of Indianapolis.

The Eagles will begin the 2019 season ranked at No. 23 in the country according to AFCA Division II Preseason Poll. The Greyhounds of Indianapolis are starting the season ranked No. 16 coming off of a 10-2 season where they won the GLVC Championship and an NCAA playoff game.

The decade record between these two squads sits at 2-2 in which these teams have seen some hard-fought, knockout type games.

“If you look at the last seven years since 2012, they have won 62 or 63 football games and six of the last seven conference championships. We’ve won 60 games and three of the last seven conference championships,” Owens said. “You talk about two private school Division II football programs that have been as good as there has been in the country for the last seven years.”

The Eagles are coming off of a disappointing year where they ended 6-4 and did not see the playoffs. All four of those losses came from ranked teams at the time, but the Eagles were not able to find a way to win down the stretch.

In 2019, AU returns fourteen starters from a year ago, seven on offense and seven on defense. The Eagles will still have a fairly young team but welcome in a large group of transfer athletes that Owens hopes will make a difference from the beginning.

“With the transfers, you don’t know for sure,” Owens said. “It’s one of those things where you see them play and you have a little better gage on transfers because they’re playing college.”

Ja’Merez Bowen, a senior defensive tackle transfer from Indiana who played in all 12 games a year ago for the Hoosiers, is at the top of the group of transfers. Jacob Williams, a cornerback transfer from Tiffin and Dakota Hobbs, a wide receiver transfer from Malone are two pleasant surprises Owens said that he has seen in camp this August that can help the team.

With the addition of Bowen, Owens knows that he has a strong defensive football team once again with returners such as senior linebacker Clay Shreve and junior linebackers Ryan Corkrean and Tyler Tokos.

Owens said that this is as good of a defensive team, personal wise, as he has had during his time at AU, emphasizing that he has had some extremely good defensive teams in the past.

The secondary will have three returning starters in senior safety Nick Powers, junior cornerback Colten Paul and sophomore whip Michael Ayers. The defensive line will have returners such as seniors Tristan Reichelderfer and Michael Hopewell as well as junior Je’len Olbrantz and sophomore Curtis Roupe who will see more playing time this year.

The one area that Owens said he is concerned about is the offensive line due to their depth. However, the positive is that they are older than they were a year ago when they had four freshmen starting on the line.

Zach Read
Sophomore quarterback Austin Brenner lines up before a snap against Ohio Dominican on Sept. 8, 2018

“Our Achilles heel is the lack of depth on the offensive line… we have to stay healthy there,” Owens said.

That offensive line will be charged with the task of protecting second-year quarterback Austin Brenner who was named the GLIAC Freshman of the Year in 2018 going 5-2 as a starter.

The supporting cast around Brenner includes sophomore tailback Austin Williams, moved from fullback as well as a strong core of returning wide receivers. This group includes junior Logan Bolin (29 catches, 394 yards, three touchdowns in 2018) and sophomore Garrett Turnbaugh (16 catches, 178 yards) as well as seniors Wes Wenning and Cedric Frierson.

The visiting Greyhounds begin 2019 with a new head coach Chris Keevers, who had been an assistant in the program for the last 25 years.

Keevers has 12 total starters returning including six on offense and six on defense with a new quarterback to lead the program.

“Who knows where this thing is going to go, it’s going to be a war, it’s gonna go 60 minutes and I’m glad they’re at our place,” Owens said.

The long awaited arrival of the college football season is here as the No. 23 Ashland Eagles will host the No. 16 Indianapolis Greyhounds on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. at Jack Miller Stadium. Live coverage can be heard on 88.9 WRDL.

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