Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells said it – "You are what your record says you are."
In 2018, Ashland University's football team ended at 6-4 overall and 6-2 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference – with all four losses to nationally-ranked NCAA Division II teams by a combined 21 points.
But with all due respect to Parcells and his quote, saying the Eagles were 6-4 this season is a bit simplistic.
Ashland turned a 2-3 first half into a 4-1 second half, and for the entire campaign, the Eagle defense was one of the best in the country.
"We're a really good football team right now," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens, who finished his 15th season guiding the Eagles with his 12th winning season. "If we're not the best defense in America, we're pretty darn close to it. It's been fun to watch them play. They've been the story of the game the entire season."
In the modern era of offense-centric football, allowing 16.1 points, 14.0 first downs, 100.5 rushing yards, 138.9 passing yards and 239.4 total yards per game, and 2.9 yards per rushing attempt, for a full season is difficult to do – particularly with an opponents' cumulative winning percentage of .593 (64-44), and six of 10 rivals ending the season with at least six wins.
"Coach (defensive coordinator Tim) Rose just put us in great positions, not only myself, but the rest of the defense," said junior safety Nick Powers, who recorded two interceptions, a fumble recovery, five total tackles and a pass breakup in Ashland's 41-7 home win on Saturday (Nov. 10) vs. Northern Michigan. "We had a great scheme going for the top running offense in the league, and we all knew we would have our hands full."
Said junior stud Tristan Reichelderfer, who finished Saturday with 13 total tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries, "I think they just were kind of hesitant to run to the boundary because of (senior defensive end) James Prater (Jr.). I think that's what it comes down to. We've got 11 players on defense, all 11 are good to great at every position. Somebody has to make the play."
2018 SENIORS GO OUT WITH A W
The win on Saturday left the 2018 Eagle senior class with 36 wins – second in program history only to the 2017 senior class' 38 victories.
PRATER ENDS IN CAREER TOP TEN TWICE
Prater Jr. not only ended his Eagle career with a program-record 46 tackles for loss, but with 22½ career sacks, he moved into a tie for ninth place on the AU list in that category.
DENTON GETS HIGH MARKS FOR ACCURACY
Sophomore kicker Satchel Denton made all 30 of his extra-point attempts and 13-of-15 field goals in his first season in the program, and his first season as a collegiate placements kicker.
No Eagle kicker had made as many PATs without a miss in a season since Mike Belsito's 31 in 2007, and no AU kicker in the Owens era has had as high a field-goal percentage with that many attempts.
THE ROAD TO 500 RESUMES IN 2019
Ashland's football program, playing since 1920, has 498 all-time victories.
For those looking ahead, the Eagles' first two games in 2019 are non-conference matchups – Sept. 5 at home vs. Indianapolis and Sept. 14 at Walsh.