PRINCETON, W. Va. - The Shepherd University football team has been chosen as the favorite to capture the WVIAC title in the annual preseason poll as voted on by the league's coaches.
Shepherd, which totaled six first-place nods and 76 points from the votes, should be up for the challenge of claiming its sixth WVIAC Title since the 2004 campaign. Defending WVIAC Champion Concord, under the direction of WVIAC Coach of the Year Garin Justice, received the other three first place votes and 71 points, which was good enough for second place in the poll.
West Virginia Wesleyan, which soared into the top 20 last year under first-year head coach Jonas Jackson, registered a second-place vote and multiple third place votes en route to 55 points. The Bobcats are predicted to finish third.
The Rams return an abundance of talent from last season's team. SU (9-2, 6-2) boasts returning quarterback Bobby Cooper under center. Cooper threw for 2,161 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2011 while Kenny Williams will handle the ground attack after compiling 842 yards and 14 rushing scores a season ago. Defensively, Howard Jones and Corey Washington earned all-WVIAC and all-region honors in 2011, with Jones earning the accolades at defensive end while Washington did at free safety. Washington led the Rams with 57 tackles and nine passes defended while Jones ran wild, posting 23.5 tackles for loss. He also had 12 sacks. Troy McNeill averaged 37.4 yards a punt last year while punt returner DJ Scott and kick returner Will McKenzie should give the Rams great field position.
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