Posted: Aug 28, 2017
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The 14th season of football in program history gets underway at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31 as Ohio Dominican travels to California (Pa.) for the first all-time matchup against the Vulcans.
Entering their first year in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference, the Panthers were projected to win the league in the preseason coaches' poll. ODU returns a total of 45 letter winners from a squad that went 7-4 last year in the GLIAC, including 11 players on offense who started at least three games last year and seven players on defense who also made three or more starts.
The Panthers return all five starting offensive linemen, a unit that has a combined 125 starts amongst them in Tyler Edwards-Frick, Andrew Lorenz, Cole Tameris, Robert Vargo and Zack Williams. Grant Russell returns for his third season as a starter and has played in 30 career games (21 starts), and running back Brandon Schoen has played in 31 career games (23 starts).
Defensively, linebacker Cameron Kohl has made the most starts of any returner (26), while Gus Dimmerling, Brian Hunter, Tre McIntyre, and Ross Thompson have all made at least 10 career starts.
ODU picked up 86 votes in the AFCA Preseason Top 25 Poll, which slots the Panthers as the sixth-highest team receiving votes. It's the fifth straight season ODU has been ranked or at least receiving votes in the preseason.
The matchup at Cal pits two of the top teams in the newly formatted Super Region One, which encompasses the G-MAC, Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), Mountain East Conference (MEC) and Northeast 10 (NE-10). In the AFCA poll, Cal is the second-highest ranked team in the region behind No. 7 Shepherd (MEC), and ODU is the fifth-highest ranked team. Indiana (PSAC) and LIU-Post (NE-10) check in at No. 9 and No. 14, respectively.
This is the first of a daunting non-conference schedule as ODU's first three opponents went a combined 27-6 last season. Cal won the PSAC last season and was the No. 1 seed in Super Region One.
The Panthers have won five of their last six season openers and are 9-4 all-time in the inaugural game of the year. ODU is 4-2 all-time opening on the road.
This will be ODU's first contest in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania since Nov. 5, 2005 at Geneva College, a 29-28 setback. ODU is 3-4 all-time against opponents from Pennsylvania and 0-3 in games played in the state.
• Since 2006, ODU has an overall record of 86-35 (.711 win percentage.) The Panthers are 40-10 in their last 50 games (.800 win percentage.) ODU has also won 39 of its last 47 regular season games (.830).
• Over the past 50 games, ODU has outscored opponents by 816 points, an average of 16.3 points per game. The Panthers have scored 30 or more points 33 times in that stretch and held opponents to 14 points or fewer 20 times.
• ODU is 38-7 against opponents from Ohio since 2007 (.844 win percentage.)
• The Panthers are 24-3 in their last 27 regular season road games (.889).
• ODU is 42-1 (.977) in its last 43 games against unranked opponents, dating back to Oct. 15, 2011.
Todd Bell, play-by-play
Matt Natali, analyst
Cory Durbin, studio
The Panther Countdown Pregame Show will begin this week at 5:50 p.m. on AM 880 and 104.5 FM The Word and online at: www.pressboxproductions.net. The rest of the regular season will air on 98.9 FM The Answer.
Contact: Scott Miles