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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio Dominican's football team kicks off its 13th season with a road test at nationally ranked Ferris State at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1.
The Panthers have won their last five season openers, with the last setback coming in the first game of the 2010 season, ODU's first at the Division II level. ODU has a 9-3 record all-time in season openers and is 4-1 when opening on the road, with the lone loss coming in the team's inaugural season in 2004.
After finishing with an 8-3 record (7-3 GLIAC) last season, ODU was projected to finish second in the GLIAC South Division this year and is receiving votes in the AFCA poll. Ferris State, which is ranked No. 12 in the AFCA poll and No. 9 in the D2Football.com poll, was picked second in the North Division.
Ohio Dominican returns 17 players who started at least three games last year – seven on offense and 10 on defense. The Panthers have their most experience and depth in both trenches. Offensive linemen Zack Williams, Cole Tameris, Andrew Lorenz, Tyler Edwards-Frick and Robert Vargo have combined to make 76 starts in their careers.
On the defensive front, a quartet of seniors in Hunter Maynard, Anthony Small, DJ Perdue and Paul Wesselhoeft are back, as well as Demetrius Farmer, Brian Hunter, Nick Isaacs and Ryan Sayers. Wesselhoeft was named to the D2Football.com Preseason All-American list.
Quarterback Grant Russell started all 11 games for ODU last fall and threw 18 touchdowns against just six interceptions. He will be flanked by new starters in the backfield and on the perimeter, with Esaias Chapman (317 yards, five touchdowns) projected to start at running back, while six freshmen and sophomores are on the two deep at the receiver positions.
The linebackers and secondary have experience, with Billy Eakins (11 career interceptions) and Marquise Tyus (four interceptions in 2015) starting at corner and O'Sha Jackson (three interceptions in 2015) returning at safety. The linebackers will be led by Cameron Kohl (66 tackles in 2015) and Ross Thompson (56 tackles in 2015), who each had starting experience last season.
Justin Bonchek will be tabbed to handle both the placekicking and punting duties this season. He made 13-of-14 extra points backing up Brent Wahle.
• Since 2006, ODU has an overall record of 79-31 (.718 win percentage.) The Panthers are 33-6 in their last 39 games (.846 win percentage.) ODU has also won 32 of its last 36 regular season games (.889).
• Over the past 39 games, ODU has outscored opponents by 762 points, an average of 19.5 points per game. The Panthers have scored 30 or more points 28 times in that stretch and held opponents to 14 points or fewer 17 times.
• ODU is 35-6 against opponents from Ohio since 2007 (.854 win percentage.)
• The Panthers are 20-1 in their last 21 GLIAC South Division games (.952) and are also 19-2 in their last 21 regular season road games (.905).
• ODU has won 35 consecutive games against unranked opponents. The last loss came on Oct. 15, 2011 at Findlay.
Contact: Scott Miles