By ANDY WOLF
After Tuesday’s practice leading up to senior day, University of Findlay running back Chauncey Bridges noted how it felt like the season was only beginning.
Now, the Oilers have one regular season game left.
Saturday’s thumping of Malone gave the seniors something extra to celebrate as they were honored in pregrame.
“It feels like everything is moving at a million miles an hour,” senior right tackle Christian Olmstead said following Saturday’s win.
Olmstead is part of the most successful senior class in UF’s history since joining Division II.
The Oilers went 29-16 over the past four years — the only time they’ve posted four straight winning seasons.
They’ve also got a playoff win last year to show for it, too.
“All the hard work we’ve put in over the four-five years, doing everything we can for this program to win and build,” Olmstead said. “It’s very special especially to have our families and our loved ones here, people that care about us and have been here since the beginning and really helped us get to where we are today.”
UF head coach Rob Keys knows his seniors have been through a lot.
Many of the seniors honored Saturday contributed since their freshman or sophomore years, most as starters.
To him, it’s been all fight.
“You look at this senior class, they’ve been resilient, especially this season,” Keys said. “It has not gone according to plan this year.
“The thing I really love about this group and this team in general is they never ever not show up and play to a high level in practice.”
Plenty Division II teams would love to be where the Oilers are at this year — 7-3 overall.
“Our first game at Kentucky Wesleyan was ages ago,” Olmstead said. “It’s flying by so fast. We’re enjoying the experience while we can.”
Not to sell short another winning season, but the playoff hunger was evident after getting a taste.
They returned a bulk of talent from last year’s playoff run and another one felt probable.
Their three losses, while stinging, are to teams at a combined 27-3.
They fell 59-19 in Week 2 at Ferris State (10-0) — now ranked No. 2 in all of Division II.
Two weeks later, Ohio Dominican, the preseason pick to win the GMAC, delivered Findlay a 34-21 loss. The Panthers are now 8-2 overall.
Another two weeks later, Hillsdale stunned UF at home 20-17 with a little bit of controversy.
The Oilers thought they had a last-second victory as quarterback Adam Bertke dove for the end zone.
Instead,the officials ruled he fumbled inches before reaching the goal line to score the go-ahead touchdown.
Only adding to the unsettling feeling is the Chargers having just finished an undefeated 8-0 slate in the GMAC by knocking off previously unbeaten Tiffin last Saturday.
Findlay could have crumbled at 3-3.
Instead, the Oilers are on a four-game winning streak heading into Saturdays season finale.
Beating rival Tiffin always sweetens the pot.
Doing so won’t likely vault the Oilers into the playoffs.
But it could easily spell the end to the Dragons’ playoff dreams.
They sit eighth in the Super Region One Rankings released Monday.
The top seven teams qualify for the playoffs.
“We get to go over and play a very good Tiffin team who’s very hungry and has a very good offense and a very good defense and a very good team,” Olmstead said.
“We’re excited for the challenge and hopefully end up on a dub (W).”