This first day of August means there are just five weeks until the 2019 Ashland University football team begins its season – Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field vs. Indianapolis.
Anticipation for the new season is understandable, given that 16 starters and nine All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference performers return from a 2018 team which went 6-4, and lost those four contests by a total of 21 points to nationally-ranked teams.
So, what other numbers will be key to the upcoming campaign? Here they are…
.584 – The combined 2018 winning percentage (73-52 record) of Ashland's 11 opponents in 2019. Three of this year's opponents – Ferris State, Grand Valley State and Indy – played in the NCAA Division II playoffs last fall, and the Bulldogs were the 2018 D-II national runner-up.
2 – Sophomore quarterback/punter Austin Brenner had a rare freshman year in 2018, leading to him being named GLIAC Freshman of the Year. Brenner led the GLIAC in two key statistical categories – completion percentage (61.3) and punting average (41.3).
2, again – Junior kicker Satchel Denton led all GLIAC full-time kickers last season by missing just two kicks. Denton made all 30 extra-point attempts, and was a conference-best 86.7 percent (13-of-15) on field goals.
3 – Ashland has had just three head football coaches in the last 60 years – College Football Hall of Famer Dr. Fred Martinelli (1959-93), Gary Keller (1994-2003) and Lee Owens (2004-current). That kind of stability at the top of a college football program is almost unheard of in this day and age.
9 – Ashland's standing in the preseason NCAA Division II Massey Ratings. Massey also has the Eagle defense ranked No. 4 in the nation, which isn't surprising given seven starters return from a unit which was ranked in the top 10 in D-II in 2018 in passing defense (third, 138.9 ypg.), total defense (fourth, 239.4 ypg.), first downs allowed on defense (fifth, 140) and scoring defense (eighth, 16.1 ppg.).
16 – Owens is beginning his 16th season guiding the Eagles. Owens is 115-50 (.697) at Ashland, a tenure which includes three GLIAC titles and five NCAA Division II postseason appearances.
48 – With the Nov. 9 game at Findlay, Ashland resumes its longest-standing rivalry. The Eagles and Oilers will meet for the 48th time on Nov. 9 at noon at Donnell Stadium, with Ashland looking to beat Findlay for the 29th time – which also would be a program-high against another opponent.
74 – Ashland has won 74 games this decade, already a program-best for any decade with 2019 to go. The Eagles' .747 winning percentage (74-25) in the 2010's also is tops for any of the 10 decades of Ashland football.
96 – On Oct. 12 at 1 p.m., Ashland will play its 96th Homecoming game, taking on Davenport. All-time on Homecoming, the Eagles are 65-25-5, and have won nine of 10 Homecoming games at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.
498 – The number of wins Ashland has all-time going into the 2019 season. Thirty NCAA Division II football programs have won 500 games entering the new season, and the Eagles will look to join them as early as Week 2.