Ashland University's football team did more than just dot the 2017 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Football Awards and All-Conference Teams.
Three Eagles – head coach Lee Owens (Coach of the Year), senior quarterback Travis Tarnowski (Player of the Year) and senior center Dominic Giunta (Offensive Lineman of the Year) – earned special awards, and 20 players landed on the GLIAC first, second and honorable mention teams.
Owens guided Ashland to its second outright GLIAC championship and third league title overall in six years in 2017, as well as his fifth NCAA Division II postseason appearance. The Eagles' 10-1 record marks the third time Owens has won double-digit games at AU, and he is 108-45 (.706) in his 14th season at the helm. This is his fourth GLIAC Coach of the Year award (2005, 2012 and 2015).
Tarnowski ended the regular season with a GLIAC-leading 2,600 passing yards and a GLIAC-high-tying 26 touchdown passes, and was second in the conference in passing efficiency (155.6) and completion percentage (60.3). During the season, he became Ashland's all-time leader in passing yards (10,877) and total offense yards (11,263), and extended his program record for career touchdown passes (106).
Tarnowski is Ashland's third GLIAC Player of the Year, following fellow QBs Billy Cundiff (2008) and Taylor Housewright (2012).
Giunta is the anchor of an Eagle offensive line which has paved the way for the Eagles to average 35.4 points and 424.9 yards per game. Through the first 10 games of 2017, his blocking grade was 88 percent with 90 knockdowns and just four missed assignments. The best AU center since All-American Vince Cashdollar, Giunta has allowed just one sack in his Eagle career.
Giunta is Ashland's second GLIAC Offensive Lineman of the Year, along with Kent Cramer (2001).
Tarnowski and Giunta were two of 10 Ashland players to earn first-team All-GLIAC laurels, along with junior running back Andrew Vaughn, senior wide receiver Matthew Wilcox, senior right tackle John Conner, junior defensive end James Prater Jr., senior cornerbacks Michael Griffin and Dale Irby, sophomore inside linebacker Clay Shreve and senior kicker Aidan Simenc.
Second-team all-conference honors were earned by redshirt freshman tight end Michael Schweitzer, junior wide receiver Kamaron Green, senior stud Austin Utter, senior whip Toney Peters and Irby as a kick returner.
Honorable mention Eagles are senior defensive tackle Harrison Hoppel, senior safety Kevin Bourne, junior nose tackle Brandon May, senior left guard Matt Murphy, senior wide receiver Jamie Hence and junior tight end Jack Holl.
No. 9 Ashland will play host to a first-round NCAA Division II Super Region Three game on Saturday (Nov. 18) at noon at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field vs. No. 13 Northwest Missouri State (9-2).