Bring on the 2019 football season!
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Special teams. Special memories. Special seasons. First-time opponents. First-time trips to new towns and stadiums.
Let’s bring on the 2019 football season, and taste the mustard-slathered bratwurst and the barbecue sandwiches, which might get more recognition than the leanest of the football teams.
West Virginia University has a first-year head coach and a 12-game schedule, with nothing but schools from heavyweight conferences, plus its opener with James Madison, a dynamo at its level of play.
Shepherd shakes off the images of the Mountain East Conference and joins a highly-decorated Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, which often has some of the best NCAA Division II teams in the nation.
Jefferson High attempts to recreate some of its better seasons, after dropping to 0-10 in 2017 and 2-8 in 2018.
The Mountaineers will show their adoring public new offensive schemes, new defensive alignments and a roster manned by players who have never started games in Morgantown.
The Rams unveil a new artificial turf after replacing the playing surface they had for 11 seasons. The old surface was guaranteed for 10 years and the school replaced it when entering the PSAC.
Jefferson has scheduled Heritage and Dominion high schools, both from Virginia, for the first time. The Cougars won’t show a top-heavy schedule with five of the first six games at home or five of the first six games on the road. A more home-and-away balance comes and Millbrook (Va.) is the opponent in the season opener in Shenandoah Junction on Aug. 30.
West Virginia University needs answers to the annual problems presented by Oklahoma and now Texas, TCU and Iowa State. The Mountaineers see North Carolina State in a non-conference game in Morgantown.
Shepherd will find Ohio Dominican, West Chester, Kutztown and Shippensburg as teams with more sinew and talent than the ones now far back in the rear view mirror — West Liberty, Urbana, West Virginia State and West Virginia Wesleyan.
Undefeated seasons were earned by the Rams in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Finding any undefeated season in the PSAC would be achieved by a team that would challenge for a national championship or at least the national semifinals.
With Martinsburg, Sherando, Musselman, South Hagerstown, Hedgesville and Millbrook on the schedule, the Cougars will encounter playoff teams in every month of their season.
West Virginia University just might make the most of its “us against the world” and “underdog” mentality.
Shepherd has seen West Chester, Kutztown, Mercyhurst, Shippensburg and Seton Hill when Monte Cater was its coach. But trips to Clarion, Bloomsburg and Lock Haven haven’t been attempted in decades, if ever.
Let’s bring on the 2019 football season, with its humid nights, sun-owned afternoons that quickly fade to bundled-against-the chill nights and Saturday afternoons when the reality of another problem-filled season is front and center.