AU Football To Open 2016 At Home Against Lakers

AU Football To Open 2016 At Home Against Lakers



Sights and Sounds

- This week's game will be broadcast live on WNCO-AM 1340, with David Wilson handling the play-by-play and Don Graham providing the commentary. The game can be heard at, and also can be accessed on the scoreboard page on the home page of the AU athletics web site,

- A live stream of the game can be found on the scoreboard page on the home page of the AU athletics web site, as well. The broadcast also will be replayed on SportsTime Ohio on Sept. 4 at 8 p.m.

- WRDL-FM 88.9 also will broadcast the game live. In addition, AU head coach Lee Owens will do a weekly appearance on WRDL's "Early Bird's Word," beginning Sept. 2 at 8:30 a.m.


Ashland, Mercyhurst Kick Off 2016

Week 1 of the 2016 college football season finds No. 6 Ashland University playing host to Mercyhurst in a matchup of old Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rivals.

The Eagles are coming off a 2015 season in which they recorded their second undefeated regular season in four years, finished at 10-1 overall and won a share of the GLIAC title - the program's 15th conference championship since 1954.

Ashland has been chosen to repeat as GLIAC South Division champions in the 2016 GLIAC Football Preseason Coaches' Poll.

The Lakers were 5-6 a season ago following a 3-0 start. Prior to 2015, Mercyhurst enjoyed three consecutive winning seasons from 2012-14 (9-2, 7-4 and 7-4, respectively).

In the 2016 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West Division Preseason Poll, the Lakers were picked to finish sixth.

Ashland will bring a 12-game regular-season home winning streak into the 2016 lid-lifter.

"There's a big buzz in the community," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens. "It is great to hear folks from the community talk about how excited they are for the opener, how high the expectations are. It's good to be able to create that kind of a buzz about the game, and the people counting down the days to Thursday and when the Eagles open.

"It is nice being at home. We play at a different level here. We get great support here. We play with unbelievable confidence. Good teams have to win at home, and we've had a good record here. I'm glad we're home. I love coaching here, and our players, they can't think of another place they'd rather play."



Junior Adam Shaheen had the best season for an Eagle tight end in program history in 2015 (70 catches, 803 yards, 10 touchdowns)…Junior quarterback Travis Tarnowski threw for 3,121 yards and 30 touchdowns as a sophomore…Senior tailback Vance Settlemire needs two touchdowns to pass Donald Church and move into third place on Ashland's all-time TD list…Senior right guard Zachary Douglass, a third-year starter, is an All-American candidate…Senior inside linebackers Brandon Gency (103) and Zach Olszewski (82) were 1-2 on the team in total tackles a year ago…Junior cornerback Dale Irby had three interceptions, 10 pass breakups and averaged 24.9 yards per kickoff return in 2015…Senior punter Austin Bruns averaged a school-record 45.6 yards per punt last fall.


Community Night/Fan Fest Opens Home Season

The 2016 season opener will be Community Night at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.

Tickets for the Eagles-Lakers football game will be $5 for adult general admission and free for senior citizens (age 62 or older) and children/students. Reserved chair back seats are available for $15. Tickets will be available at the door, and gates will open at 4:30 p.m. the day of the game.

Prior to the Sept. 1 opener from 3-5 p.m., a free-to-the-public Fan Fest will take place on a closed-off section of Broad Street in front of the Robert Troop Center. Included among the festivities – live music performed by local musician Jeff Ritz, a free ticket giveaway and live broadcast by WRDL-FM 88.9, a meet-and-greet with Tuffy The Eagle, a cornhole setup in the front lawn of the Troop Center, a mini-football giveaway courtesy of Hedstrom to the first 100 kids, a team poster giveaway while supplies last, contests, a bounce house and more.

Fans of all ages are welcome.


Leaders Of The Pack

The 2016 Ashland University captains are Settlemire, Gency, Tarnowski and senior stud Adam Wallace - three seniors and a junior.

Tarnowski and Gency were captains in 2015, as well.

"The four captains that were elected by our team, I think they made a great choice," Owens said. "We've got eight, 10 or 12 guys who really are respected by our team that have played prominent roles on our team.

"But you couldn't go wrong, obviously, with Tarnowski and Gency returning. And I think Wallace and Settlemire are two great choices."


Eagles Enjoy Ranked Status

Since 2006, the Eagles are 27-14 as a Top 25 team in the AFCA Coaches' Poll.

This will be the first time Ashland will play Mercyhurst as a nationally-ranked team.


Ashland Racks Up Preseason Honors

In addition to the top spot in the South Division in the GLIAC preseason poll, the Eagles are in the Top 10 in the country in four preseason polls.

Ashland is ranked in the following preseason polls – No. 6 in the 2016 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II Coaches' Top 25 Preseason Poll, No. 3 in the Lindy's Sports College Football National 2016 Preview preseason poll, No. 7 in the 2016 Top 25 preseason poll and No. 8 in the 2016 Sporting News Division II Preseason Top 25 poll.

Shaheen has earned first-team Division II preseason All-America honors from, Football Gameplan and Lindy's Sports. In addition, Douglass and Gency landed on the Lindy's Sports preseason All-American second team.


What Can Shaheen Do For An Encore?

Shaheen's three preseason honors are due to a season Eagle football fans never have seen from a tight end in 2015.

As a sophomore last fall, Shaheen caught 70 passes – an Eagle program record for a tight end, second-most ever in a season for an Eagle player and the highest total for all tight ends at any level of the NCAA in 2015. He added 803 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

"When we started the season last year, I think he was about 257, 258 (pounds). He's 280, 283 right now, and he's gotten quicker, and he's stronger, and he still catches the ball really well," Owens said. "He's going to create tons of matchup issues - not just matchup issues in terms of trying to cover the routes, but matchup issues in trying to (figure out) who's going to take him on if he's going to block you on a bubble screen or a flare pass.

"We're going to create some issues for defenses, to have that kind of weapon. We have to be creative."

Following the 2015 campaign, Shaheen earned the following honors – AFCA Division II Coaches' All-America, honorable mention All-American, College Sports Information Directors of American (CoSIDA) Academic All-American Division II second team, Don Hansen All-Super Region Four second team, Division II Conference Commissioner's Association (D2CCA) All-Super Region 4 second team, CoSIDA Academic All-District, All-GLIAC first team and GLIAC All-Academic Excellence Team.


Settlemire Getting Closer To TD Mark

In his first three seasons as an Eagle, Settlemire scored 34 touchdowns - averaging a touchdown every 11.4 times he touched the ball from scrimmage.

Settlemire needs just two touchdowns to go from tied for fourth all-time in Ashland history to alone in third place, breaking a tie with Ray Novotny and moving past Donald Church.

With 12 touchdowns as a senior, Settlemire will become the Eagles' all-time leader, passing former teammate Anthony Taylor:






Anthony Taylor


Keith Weaver


Jordan McCune


Antoine Gaiter


Donald Church


Jon Schroeder


Ray Novotny


Ray Bolin


Vance Settlemire


Joe Horn



Tarnowski Already Among AU Passing Best

Tarnowski has started 21 games at Ashland, and is 18-3 as a starter, including a spotless 10-0 home mark in the regular season.

Heading into 2016, Tarnowski already has cemented his place among the top passers in Ashland football history. He has thrown for 5,288 career yards, trailing only Billy Cundiff (9,143) and current AU wide receivers coach Taylor Housewright (7,259), and 46 touchdown passes, behind just Cundiff (79) and Housewright (71).


Can't Tell Them Without A Scorecard

The following is a list of notable Eagles who have changed their uniform numbers for 2016:




2016 #


Kamaron Green




Tyren Jackson




Makai Veasley




Matthew Wilcox




Vince Hill




Tre'Vontae Jackson




James Prater Jr.





The Eagles' Oh So Sweet Home

The 2016 season will be the eighth for the Eagles at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field, and to say they enjoy playing on Broad Street is an understatement.

Ashland is 31-8 (.795) at home since 2009, and has won 12 straight regular-season contests at "The Jack."





















Ashland's "D" Consistent Year After Year

Ashland University's defense has consistently been one of the GLIAC's best this decade.

In the first six seasons of the 2010s, the Eagle "D" has led the GLIAC in scoring defense twice and not ranked lower than fourth, and has led the league in total defense once and ranked fourth or higher five times.





4th scoring (24.8 ppg.), 4th total (368.1 ypg.)


1st scoring (18.2 ppg.), 2nd total (338.3 ypg.)


2nd scoring (23.4 ppg.), 6th total (387.0 ypg.)


1st scoring (15.2 ppg.), 1st total (292.0 ypg.)


T4th scoring (23.9 ppg.), 4th total (344.2 ypg.)


3rd scoring (17.8 ppg.), 3rd total (305.5 ypg.)


"Defensively, we played really good football," Owens said of 2015. "There were a couple times when we stuttered on offense, and we had to win on defense, and that will happen again this year."

With seven starters returning from a 2015 AU defense which finished second in the GLIAC in interceptions (18) and fourth in both total defense (368.1 yards per game) and scoring defense (24.8 points per game), the Eagles look to have the pieces to keep that consistency going in 2016.


Tribute On Tap Prior To Kickoff

Prior to the opener with the Lakers, there will be a moment of silence for Dr. Don Rinehart, Bob Wendling and Kenny Krupp - members of the AU Gridiron Club and supporters of AU athletics who passed away in the last year.