Slippery Rock, Indiana crowd Shepherd football schedule
SHEPHERDSTOWN — There was no spring football practice to lead Shepherd into its second season in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference this fall.
No other conference team was able to conduct similar drills either. The disjointed school term was completely derailed by the pandemic virus.
When will much of anything return to normal? Will college football teams be able to get back to business in August in preparation for the 2020 season? Or will the virus continue to dominate the news and disrupt daily life into the end of the calendar year (and on into 2021)?
Should Shepherd be back at its usual late-summer practice and then be able to begin its now-charted regular season on time, the Rams have an 11-game slate of games that has plenty of legitimate playoff contenders waiting for them.
On Sept. 3, the Rams are to visit Ohio Dominican in central Ohio. The 2019 Shepherd season began with a loss to Ohio Dominican, when the visitors to mostly-filled Ram Stadium witnessed a fourth quarter rally by the Panthers that clipped the Rams and squashed any ideas of an unbeaten season.
Two teams from the West Division of the PSAC are next on the schedule, including one of last season’s playoff teams, Indiana. The Crimson Hawks visit Ram Stadium on Sept. 19, a week after Gannon, a lakefront school from Erie, is in Shepherdstown on Sept. 12.
Games four through 10 are all against East Division teams. Shepherd is also in the league’s East Division.
Kutztown, another playoff entrant in 2019, sees the traveling Shepherd roadshow on Sept. 26 and Shippensburg comes next on Oct. 3 in Shippensburg.
Back at Ram Stadium on both Oct. 10 and 17, the Rams will face Lock Haven and Millersville, two teams they defeated last year.
Three of the four late-season opponents will be played on the road. Playoff entry West Chester is scheduled for Oct. 24 on the road, and then the last home game of 2020 is against Bloomsburg on Oct. 31. East Stroudsburg, which was stung for 76 points by the Rams, is at home on Nov. 7, and playoff entrant Slippery Rock, a team that sent Shepherd out of the playoffs last season, is to be played in western Pennsylvania on Nov. 14.
Shepherd’s lengthy list of 2019 seniors showed wide receiver Devin Phelps (an undrafted signee by Arizona); running back Deonte Glover; tight end DJ Cornish; offensive linemen Eric Ostrow, Evan Ostrow and Keandre Batson; and effective wide receiver Dylan Brewer.
The list of 2019’s defensive contributors includes Chris Jones, Justin Cole, Tim Womack, Scott Dixon and Jared Austin.
Reliable long snapper Tyler Stern was also a senior.
What will the lingering coronavirus do to recruiting? Shepherd has announced that 21 high school players have told coach Ernie McCook they are coming to Shepherd. Of those signees, 13 of them are linemen or linebackers.
When the Rams fell to Slippery Rock in the second round of the 2019 playoffs, they had effective underclass offensive starters in Tyson Bagent, Cole Weaver and Joe Fisher and defensive underclass playmakers in Chrys Lane, Ponce DeLeon and Ricky Robinson.
Shepherd nearly always brings in talented transfers who transform the team from one with question marks to a team with playoff potential.
The future is filled with too many unknowns. And many sports schedules and seasons are on the top of those lists of unknowns.