Tried and true are Feiss, Cornish and Lloyd
SHEPHERDSTOWN — The winds of change are already blowing through Shepherd’s football team.
A change in leadership; a close-at-hand change in conferences; first-year starters moving in on offense and defense.
Change often brings with it feelings of uncertainty and even discomfort on Saturdays, where confidence can be chiseled away.
Shepherd was 10-0 in conference play in 2015. Again in 2016 the Rams went 10-0 in its Mountain East Conference games. And in 2017 the Rams marched through their league schedule with no losses.
That’s 30-0 in conference games in the past three seasons.
Stellar quarterback play. Plenty of points stacked on scoreboards everywhere. Quality receivers. Individual defenders destined for the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
But this year, highly productive names are missing.
So now what?
A first-year starter at quarterback. The productive shoes of James Gupton, Tre Sullivan, Myles Humphrey and Elijah Norris on defense are gone. Even flawless long-snapper Nick Barmoy has to be replaced.
Still in town to curb too much uncertainty and too much anxiety among the alumni and money-givers are wide receiver Ryan Feiss, tight end J.D. Cornish and offensive lineman Levi Lloyd.
Feiss water-bugged his way to 1,391 receiving yards a year ago. He had 95 catches and scored nine touchdowns. Feiss even threw a six-yard scoring pass to quarterback Connor Jessop.
The elusive senior helped make the movement of receiver Billy Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles more bearable.
The new quarterback has a reliable target in Feiss when the Rams travel to Notre Dame for the season opener on Sept. 1.
It was already into the season when Cornish, then a sophomore, first appeared in the starting lineup. And did he make his presence felt.
When the Rams had completed their third consecutive unbeaten regular season, Cornish had been voted to the All-MEC first team after making 36 catches for 561 yards and six touchdowns.
Defenses could not concentrate too heavily on what Feiss was going to do to them.
A multi-year starter in the offensive line is Levi Lloyd. A senior like Feiss, Lloyd can be a pillar for the Rams if they are to continue slaying the Falcons, Pioneers, Hilltoppers and Bobcats of the conference.
Shepherd will likely have three new starters in the interior of its offensive line, not a pleasant feeling with a first-year starter at quarterback.
There is some uncertainty leading into any new football season.
Unanswered questions can be magnified in their importance.
But with Feiss, Cornish and Lloyd, the Rams have stability and they have playmakers.