Back in 2010 Ohio Dominican (one of our top ten programs in the state of Ohio) left the ranks of the NAIA and joined one of the powerhouse conferences of Division II football when they linked up with the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which is composed of schools from Michigan and Ohio.
As recently as 2003, the campus at Ohio Dominican (located in Columbus) had no football team to support, and up until 2010 they fielded a solid NAIA team. When former Ohio State player and coach Bill Conley joined the program back in 2010, he was tabbed as the head coach that would bring the program into Division II. Conley and his staff won two games in their first season and have improved every year since (going 7-4 in 2011 and 8-3 in 2012).
One of the more well known names of the GLIAC over the past few decades has been Grand Valley State. The Lakers have won four national championships (two under Brian Kelly), played in six national title games, owned a 40 game win streak at one point (2005-2007) and entered Saturday's game with Ohio Dominican as the #9 team in the country.
2013 is shaping up to be the program's break out year. Welcoming Grand Valley (of the top teams in D-II) to their home field Saturday, Ohio Dominican played a fearless four quarters and got off to a quick 17-0 start in the first quarter before really getting things cooking in the second half. When it was all said and done the Panthers had rolled to a 57-14 victory. Grand Valley hadn't allowed that many points since 1987 against Central Florida.
“This feels good, these are the ones you dream about — to beat a good football team convincingly. We've worked a lot of hours to get to this point. It goes back to my days as a player under Woody Hayes. Coach Hayes always told me to work your job as if you are going to be there the rest of your life.” coach Conley told the Columbus Dispatch after the game.
The win pushed the Panthers to 4-0 on the year and will forever be considered one of the program's signature wins. The energy that a team feels after such a monumental win is just what many teams need in order to propel them to do bigger and better things as the season wears on.
The most impressive part may be that Conley and his staff have their guys performing excellent in every aspect of the game and, in most cases, they're playing their best football toward the end of regulation. Take a look at some of their numbers:
- Special teams scored 25 of the 57 points against Grand Valley
- Defense has forced two safeties this season
- Defense has accounted for 16 sacks in four games and 5 interceptions (one pick six)
- Offense is averaging 474 yards per game and over 41 points per game
- The team has outscored their opponents 31-7 in the fourth quarter.
We're really looking forward to what coach Conley and his staff are able to do with the rest of the season. They will have their game against Findlay on national television on October 17th.