A little nostalgia and a lot of good food to be found along last trip to South Euclid
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Often the end of an era or the last trip to a place where your football team won’t be returning can bring some sadness.
All five of the road games Shepherd has on its 2018 football schedule will be the last times the Rams see those teams.
Shepherd is traveling this particular five-game circuit for the final time.
The school will be taking its leave of the Mountain East Conference when the upcoming school year closes next May.
When the 2019-20 school term begins, the Rams will be full-fledged members of the state-wide Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
The beginning of the end for this year’s Rams will be the September 1 game in South Euclid, Ohio against formidable Notre Dame, a team Shepherd outscored last year, 54-49, en route to another unbeaten regular season and MEC championship.
South Euclid is over 300 miles away, located just east of Cleveland.
Shepherd has its staunch following of alumni, players’ relatives, team personnel and others who have been in the Rams’ corner for years and even decades.
These loyalists will take the trip to northern Ohio to see the Rams play their final game against the blue-shirted Falcons.
Many will leave their homes, businesses or Shepherdstown on Aug. 31, for the lengthy drive to see the game scheduled for noon. They don’t want to be on the highway too early on Saturday, and have to rush along to the site of the season’s opening game.
Long stretches of paying strict attention to conditions, while driving on I-68 or the Pennsylvania Turnpike, are tedious enough.
How can the trek be made more enjoyable and the loyalist be ready to watch college football when they reach their destination?
Through their stomach is one certain way.
Grinding along toward South Euclid is a necessity. Not finding home-cooked food, reasonable prices and a laid-back, comfortable atmosphere is not acceptable to most care-less-calories-don’t-matter football fans.
Along I-68 near the interchange with I-79 North is Morgantown, home of West Virginia University and the Dirty Bird restaurant.
Reasonable prices and a homey atmosphere are fringe benefits at a small place with good service, even tempting calorie counters with its fried chicken, tuna sandwiches, buffalo chicken sandwiches and macaroni and cheese.
Moving north along I-79 brings the Shepherd supporters to Washington, Pennsylvania, home of the Dog House Diner. A breakfast of corn beef hash or sausage gravy comes to the customer with smiling service and reasonable prices. For dessert any time, there is cheesecake or pumpkin cheesecake.
Just outside Pittsburgh in Coraopolis the hungry traveler can regroup from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tootsie’s Diner, where omelets and breakfast delights such as chicken and waffles or lemon-blueberry pancakes are recommended. Large portions make Tootsie’s a western Pennsylvania favorite.
Youngstown, Ohio is not only home to the Penguins of Youngstown State University, but also Kravitz Deli, which serves up a specialty Reuben sandwich made of corned beef, pastrami, roasted turkey breast, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese on grilled rye bread with generous sides of coleslaw, macaroni salad and potato chips.
Closer to South Euclid, one route takes you to Akron, where Fred’s Diner has no fancy exterior, but once inside, the hungry travelers find home cooking with large portions brought to the tables by a friendly staff. It’s a relaxed atmosphere where nobody is a stranger and none leave without a sated smile.
Returning from the game, a place nearer to home is Buddy Lou’s Eats, Drinks and Antiques in Hancock, Maryland.
Open from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Buddy Lou’s has lobster rolls, lobster mac and cheese, crab soup and excellent burgers brought out by a friendly staff. Generous portions of entrees are made more appetizing by affordable prices.
Shepherd won’t be playing Notre Dame again any time soon, if ever.
But a “voyage” along interstate highways to northern Ohio can be made as noteworthy as a Shepherd victory, because of the diners and service found along the way on the last trip to South Euclid.