INDIANAPOLIS – Ohio Dominican's football team picked up five of nine first place votes and was projected to finish first in the 2018 Great Midwest Football Preseason Coaches Poll, presented by Under Armour.
Coming off of an unblemished 2017 G-MAC season, the Panthers finished with 59 total points in the poll. Second-place Findlay finished with 54 points, Hillsdale with 51, and conference newcomer Tiffin with 48.
Rounding out the preseason projections were Walsh (34), Malone (27), Alderson Broaddus (23), Lake Erie (15) and Kentucky Wesleyan (13).
The Panthers finished the 2017 season with a 7-3 record (7-0 G-MAC), capturing the league title with a 49-24 victory over Findlay in the season finale in which ODU outgained the Oilers 516-359.
ODU is scheduled to return 15 of its 21 all-conference players from 2017, including seven first teamers. Seniors in wide receiver Cory Contini (Dover, Ohio), defensive end Brian Hunter (Mayfield, Ohio), defensive tackle Tristan Kehres (Shelby, Ohio), juniors in running back EJ Colson (Middletown, Ohio), defensive back Gus Dimmerling (Perrysburg, Ohio) and linebacker Camren Moore (New Carlisle, Ohio) and sophomore punter Logen Neidhardt (Hicksville, Ohio).
Back from the honorable mention list are junior linebacker Jalen M. Christian (Dayton, Ohio) and junior wide receiver Cedric Washington (Knoxville, Tenn.) and sophomores in receiver Devanaire Conliffe (Willoughby, Ohio), offensive lineman Jake Garrison (Clarksville, Ohio) and defensive back Shyoun Petteway (Steubenville, Ohio).
Contini was named the G-MAC Offensive Back of the Year, Neidhardt was the G-MAC Special Teams Player of the Year, and head coach Kelly Cummings was the G-MAC Coach of the Year. Graduated quarterback Grant Russell was the G-MAC Player of the Year last fall as well.
The Panthers had one of the most prolific offenses in Division II last year, leading the nation in passing efficiency (190.9), completion percentage (72.0 percent) and fewest turnovers (seven), ranking second in third down conversion percentage (52.9 percent), third in passing offense (343.6 yards per game), fourth in total offense (510.5 yards per game) and 15th in scoring offense (39.5 points per game).
The defense, meanwhile, limited conference opponents to just 13.6 points and 349.4 yards per game. Overall, the defense ranked third in the league in allowing 22.0 points per game and 402.0 yards per game.
The Panthers will kick off the 2018 season at home at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30 against California (Pa.). The Panthers have a 58-20 record since 2011 (.744), winning a pair of conference titles and making two NCAA postseason appearances in that stretch.
Contact: Scott Miles