After starting the 2018 campaign with a 3-3 record, the Findlay Oilers rattled off five straight wins to end the season including a season-ending victory over nationally-ranked Tiffin on November 10. The Oilers have a tall test early this fall and will kick-off the 2019 season at second-ranked Ferris State at 7:30 pm on Thursday, Sep. 5.
The Bulldogs hold a 16-11 advantage in the series between the former GLIAC opponents and have won each of the previous five matchups against the Oilers. Findlay's last win came in 2011 when, at home, they knocked off the Dogs by a score of 43-35. 2018 was the most recent matchup, a top-twenty billing that was played in Big Rapids between #9 Ferris State and #19 Findlay. The Bulldogs won that contest 59-13 en route to a season in which they would finish as the national runner-up.
Every Oilers football game will be broadcast on 88.3 WLFC and can be listed to locally on the radio or streamed online at WLFC.com.
Video streaming for the contest will be produced by Ferris State University and will stream live on the Bulldog Sports Network.
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Head Coach Rob Keys
Head coach Rob Keys is in his ninth season at the helm of the Oilers football program in 2019. He has recorded a 56-33 record with the program as a head coach, which includes a 46-29 mark in conference games. He has coached Findlay to winning records in seven of his eight seasons including last season when he lead the Oilers to their first ever NCAA Division II Playoffs.
For Findlay's 2019 coaching staff, please click on the following link:
Findlay Oilers (0-0, 0-0 G-MAC)
Last season started with three losses in six games, but not for a controversial call against Hillsdale on October 19, the Oilers were still in position to win a conference title. Heading into 2018, no doubt Findlay is hungry to claim their first league title, but it will be a long road to get to that goal.
The case can be made that no one in the country has a more difficult schedule ahead. Findlay kicks off the year with national runner-up and #2 Ferris State. On October 19, the Oilers will take on Hillsdale who also appears in the national rankings at #19. The following week, national semifinalist and #4 Notre Dame (OH) will play host to the Oilers, and on Nov. 9, #23 Ashland will roll into Findlay in a game that filled the void left by Malone when they dropped the football program. Sprinkle in Ohio Dominican and Tiffin who each spent time in the top-25 poll last season and Findlay is sure to be given a challenge week in and week out.
2019 could be a different year than Findlay fans have seen in the past as the Oilers as two major offensive pieces were lost to graduation as Rhys Gervais and Jason Moore, Findlay's all-time leaders in passing and receiving, are gone. However, there are multiple offensive weapons returning for Rob Keys' offense including all-American running back Brian Benson, all-conference wide receiver Andrew Ogletree, and all-conference tight end Luke Stuffel. Piece in a few transfers and an offensive line anchored by all-region players Neal Davis and Logan Bailey, preseason all-American Andrew Dickinson, and two-year starter Clay Colvin, and the Oilers offense has certainly retained enough talent to remain atop the G-MAC in scoring and yards per game.
While a few of the offensive faces have changed, defensively, the Oilers return five starters from a season ago. Junior Kyle Gibson, an all-region defensive end, returns to the Oilers' defensive line after a breakout year. In 2019, Gibson started all 11 games and made 51 tackles. He tallied 7.5 sacks and was second in the league with 16 tackles-for-loss. Also on the d-line will be all-G-MAC tackle Grant Kinsinger and senior Justin Ellis. Linebackers Isaac Miles and Jack Trombetti also return next to Hawaii native, Austyne Carvalho-Toloai, a new face on the Oilers' defense. The secondary will be manned by a pair of sophomores and a pair of transfers looking to solidify their positions at Findlay. All told, Coach Keys calls this defensive group one of the fastest and most athletic defenses he's had in the past few years.
No. 2 Ferris State (0-0, 0-0 GLIAC)
Expectations could not be higher for the 2019 Ferris State Bulldogs. They enter the season ranked no. 2 in the AFCA DII Poll and no. 1 or no 2 in various other polls. In the previous five years the team from Big Rapids has pieced together a record of 60-8, won three conference titles, had three unbeaten regular seasons, reached the national quarterfinals three times, and last season, was just three points shy of claiming a national championship. In 2019, they will return 59 letterwinners and 18 starters from last year's national runner-up squad including the Harlon Hill winning quarterback, Jayru Campbell, who will headline this team all season long.
Campbell returns after a season in which he threw for 2,931 yards and 27 touchdowns for an average of 195.4 yds/gm and rushed for 1,460 yards and 21 touchdowns, an average of 97.3 yds/gm. His rushing totals were the highest in the country among quarterbacks, the sixth time in seven years that Ferris St. has had the nation's leading rusher among QBs. Despite all the accolades, in D2Football.com's release of their preseason all-America teams, on Monday, Campbell was listed as a preseason second teamer behind Valdosta State's quarterback Rogan Wells, last year's Harlon Hill runner-up behind Campbell.
As a team, Ferris State posted 491 yards per game last season including 219 through the air and 272 on the ground. They scored 39 points per game and sported the nation's top first downs offense, picking up 395 first downs last season.
Defensively, the Bulldogs are stout as they return their top three leading tacklers from a season ago in the forms of DE Austin Edwards (97 tackles), LB Avonte Bell (84 tackles), and LB Delon Stephenson (84 tackles). Of their 11 starters on this season's two-deep, just one name will be different from a season ago as DI Southern Illinois transfer James Ceaser will hold the starting spot at cornerback.
All this success is no different when the Red and Yellow play in the friendly confines of Top Taggart. Dating back to 2013, the Bulldogs have won 35-of-40 games at home, never losing more than one game on their home turf in any of those seasons. Their last home game of 2018 was an NCAA Regional Semifinal victory over no. 18 Northwest Missouri State, a game the Bulldogs won by a score of 27-21.