By: Dylan DeWitt
Sunday night, the Findlay Oilers football team members and coaching staff were in a room filled with emotion and satisfaction in hearing that they had made history. When watching the NCAA selection show, there was no guarantee on whether they had played their last game of the season, or if it would continue on with a spot in the playoffs. The season continues on this Saturday in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where the Oilers will have the opportunity to win and advance in the playoffs against the Shepherd Rams. The year has been filled with records by the Oilers and with that being said, the Oilers will make their first ever playoff run in the 2017 NCAA Division II Playoffs.
Coming into the first round of the playoffs, the Oilers are looking to bounce back after coming up just short in the Great Midwest Conference Championship game. Finishing the regular season with nine wins, the Oilers definitely have the mentality of knowing how to win. Surrounded with talent on both sides of the ball, the Findlay Oilers team will continue to look for performances from its notable players to rally behind and get the momentum going. As the Oilers prepare for a team like the Shepherd Rams, preparation and determination will be something that will lead them to a successful day come Saturday.
Taking a look at the two foes that will square off at Ram Stadium at 12:00 p.m., it may be a shootout as both teams have continued to put a tremendous amount of points on average. The Shepherd Rams are coming into the contest averaging 48.50 points per game compared to the Oilers who average 47.5 points per game. On the defensive side however, the Oilers give up an average of 17.1 points per game which is an 8 point differential from their opponents. The Rams defensive have given up 25.6 points per game to their opponents. With a game expected to be filled with touchdowns, the team`s defense will be a key impact to the game`s outcome. As the old phrase goes, “Defense wins championships”.
With all that being said, there are many notable players and other team statistics that have helped lead the two teams the entire season. The Oilers rushing attack is ranked seventh best in rushing offense according to NCAA.com with an average of 274.1 yards per game. Daouda Sylla, a senior from Ypsilanti, Michigan, has accumulated 1266 yards this season which gives him a rank of tenth in all of Division II. Other players such as Jason Moore is tied for tenth most touchdowns on the season in Division II and Aaron Ivory, Francis Cutchember and Johnny Hopkins are just a few of the many talented players that have continued to help on offense and defense. From the Shepherd Rams, the passing attack is their claim to fame this year. Quarterback Connor Jessop, a senior for the Rams, is among one of the most highlighted quarterbacks in Division II, being in the top three in the categories of passing yards per game, touchdowns, and points responsible for per game.
The game is set. The team is getting primed and ready and the Oilers are looking to advance towards their one goal during this week`s preparation for Saturday at noon. They accomplished the goal of making the playoffs, and the next goal is left at the end of the road; a National Championship title to bring back to Findlay, Ohio.