Eagles to finish season against Wildcats on senior day



In 2018, the Eagles beat Northern Michigan at home in the snow 41-7 and look to host the Wildcats at 1 p.m. at Jack Miller Stadium this Saturday

Zach Read

The 2019 campaign for the Ashland University football team will come to a close on Saturday as the Eagles will host Northern Michigan on senior day with kickoff at 1 p.m.

For the Eagles (6-4, 5-2 GLIAC), this is the first time since 2009 in which the program has finished with at least four losses in back-to-back seasons after going 6-4 during the 2018 season.

“It sometimes takes a game like Saturday to humble you and there are times that is healthy,” head coach Lee Owens said. “It’s healthy from a coaching and player perspective, you need to be humbled every once in a while.”

In preparation for their final game of the season, the Eagles have had an unusual schedule this week due to winter weather arriving early in Ashland.

After Mother Nature dropped three to four inches of snow in Ashland on Monday night into Tuesday morning and dropped the temperature into single digits, Owens knew he needed to find an alternative for practice for the rest of the week. The solution, not practice Tuesday and push the practice schedules back a day.

“How’s that going to impact us? Maybe the advantage we normally have because we’re off on Friday and they’re traveling Friday, maybe we lose that because we now have to practice Thursday/Friday,” Owens said.

The indoor facility used by the team ended up being Paul L. David Athletic Training Center at Massillon High School in Canton, Ohio. Gracious enough to use the facility, the Eagles traveled to practice in Canton from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday night.

Whether practicing indoors or outside, the focus was still on regrouping after the Week 10, 53-18 loss to Findlay and preparing for the Wildcats (1-8, 0-7 GLIAC).

Some of the 16 seniors who will be playing in their final collegiate game with the Eagles will be nose tackle Ja’Merez Bowen, defensive tackle Michael Hopewell, tackle Ryan Maguire, center Connor Fulton, guard Ronnie Shaw, safeties Nick Powers and Cedric Frierson, stud Tristan Reichelderfer and linebacker Clay Shreve.

“This team, with this senior class, did as much to win my heart as any team I’ve coached,” Owens said. “And it’s not always by results on the field. It’s been by character, it’s been by leadership, it’s been by toughness, not quitting. It’s by all those things you admire so much, and how they handle adversity and bounce back.”

While Northern Michigan’s record does not show for much with only winning their first game of the season against McKendree 30-9, Owens wants to make sure his guys are focusing on themselves and their mistakes that need fixed.

“I don’t care what their record is,” Owens said. “After the fourth quarter we just went through, the second half we just went through, of this last game, we can’t look by, beyond, past any opponent. We have to make sure we’re ready to go and play our best game.”

The Wildcats are dead last in the GLIAC in the categories of points per game (15.8), total yards per game (261.9), passing yards per game (141.1) and points allowed per game (32.0).

The Wildcats strong suit is their GLIAC-leading 24.4 yards per kickoff return mainly by way of freshman wide receiver Tyquan Cox who averages 27.9 yards per attempt.

At the helm for Northern Michigan is head coach Kyle Nystrom in his third season and at quarterback sophomore Ryan Johnson who is strictly a passing quarterback with a 50.3 completion percentage for 1225 yards and eight touchdowns.

“I really love this group; these guys I’d fight for, take a sword for, I’d die for, they are a special group,” Owens said. “That is why it is so important to me to find a way to make sure they get a win on Saturday and they ring that victory bell and they sing that fight song.”

The final showdown of the season for the Eagles and Wildcats will be all set to take place at Jack Miller Stadium on Saturday at 1 p.m. for senior day. Live coverage can be heard on 88.9 WRDL.