By BRIAN LESTER
With the sun shining and a chill in the air late Saturday afternoon, University of Findlay senior defensive end Richard Sumlin glanced over at the Donnell Stadium scoreboard and smiled.
It read UF 38, Malone 14, and a win was exactly how the Oilers wanted senior day to end. The victory guaranteed a second consecutive winning season, something that hasn’t happened at UF since a string of three consecutive winning seasons between 2002 and 2004.
The road to this day didn’t come easy.
UF has had its share of tough moments along the way, including a 1-10 campaign in 2010, but Sumlin took pride in knowing he and his veteran teammates have played a part in getting this program moving in the right direction again.
The victory here on Saturday was the 20th since 2009, with 13 of those wins coming over the last two years with Rob Keys has the head coach.
“It’s amazing. “We’ve put so much sweat and tears and everything right here on this field,” Sumlin said. “And Oiler Nation came out to support us today. It was great to get one more win on this field.”
Senior offensive lineman Scott Dearwester had similar thoughts.
“We have so many memories on this field, and it’s great to finish with a win. That is what we wanted. I’m happy myself and the other seniors could win our final game at home.”
Sumlin, Dearwester, Tyler Johns, Monterae Williams, Brandon Butler, Clay Belton, Alex Kovach and Josh Kloepfer are the seniors on the UF team. They all had hoped to lead the Oilers to a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship and NCAA Division II playoff berth in 2012.
The dreams didn’t come true because sometimes there isn’t a storybook in ending in sports.
But the seniors can smile about the fact that they have raised the bar and the expectations for the Oilers going forward.
“I can’t say enough about what the seniors have meant to our football team,” Keys said. “They have done an excellent job and this was a great win for them.”
The seniors have a chance to go out with one more win. The Oilers play Walsh on Saturday at Fawcett Stadium in the season finale in Canton.
If the Oilers win, they finish 7-3 and one step closer to getting to where they want to be as a program.
Sure, a 7-3 season doesn’t compare to winning a championship and playing in the postseason, but it sure does beat playing for a struggling program that doesn’t seem to be headed in the right direction.
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