Great Valley Classic is no more, but Rams. vs Raiders is on again
SHEPHERDSTOWN — When Shepherd played Shippensburg not too long ago, the game was billed as the “Great Valley Classic.” The two schools were located in the same geographical area and they played on a regular basis. But when Shepherd joined the Mountain East Conference, the series was stopped.
Now they are both members of the East Division of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. And tomorrow they are going to renew the series at Ram Stadium at noon.
It’s certainly not the Great Valley Classic anymore. Shippensburg has played one of the meanest schedules in all of the NCAA Division II ranks. And they have the losses to prove it. Just last week, the Red Raiders had accepted six West Chester turnovers and led the Golden Rams, 21-16, as the third quarter faded. But then the Golden Rams scored two times in the fourth period, to finally overcome their gift-giving.
West Chester, a Top 25 team in all the Division rankings, went to 5-0, while Shippensburg went back to 1-4, and continued to be bruised by the list of Top 25 teams on its schedule.
Resting some of its injured players, Shepherd battered East Division rival Lock Haven, 62-28. Whether those four or five players will be ready to face Shippensburg will not be revealed until the game actually starts.
The two strongest teams on Shepherd’s schedule to-date have been played at Ram Stadium. And late fourth quarter points by both Ohio Dominican and Kutztown have meant two losses for the Rams. The three other teams played to-date — Mercyhurst, Clarion and Lock Haven — have all been played on the road. And Shepherd defeated all three of them.
West Chester, Kutztown and East Stroudsburg in the East Division arrive on Oct. 12 as unbeaten teams. The “Big 3” of the West Division — Slippery Rock, Indiana and California — continue on as the most impressive teams in the eight-school division.
Shepherd has completed its three-game stand against West Division teams, and will not play Slippery Rock, Indiana or California this season.
Neither team has been able to do much damage with its ground offense. Although Shepherd ran through Lock Haven with abandon, it hadn’t accomplished much against better competition in its first four games. Shippensburg simply has been unable to generate much ground yardage at any point in its four-loss season.
The Great Valley Classic is no more, stashed away in each school’s football history books. However, the renewal of this rivalry should feature a close game, with both passing offenses being on display.
Why hasn’t Shepherd been able to win at home? It committed ghastly turnovers and against Kutztown was penalized 16 times. Why hasn’t Shippensburg been able to win? Its schedule has been very difficult and it squandered the opportunities it had with West Chester’s six turnovers.