Map Back To Playoffs Lies In Running Game For Shepherd Pirates

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Photo via Hudl

 
The city of Shepherd sits snugly on Highway 59 halfway between Cleveland and Livingston. Or if you want to take some back roads, it’s about halfway between the Golden Triangle and the Brazos Valley.

Enough of the geographical marker of Shepherd, which has a bright blue building called Bluejay Pharmacy. The building sticks out so much that anyone driving through might mistake this as the nickname for Shepherd High School, which is actually the Pirates.

There’s no easy way to get to Shepherd from its district opponents in football (thank you, UIL). In one of those funky districts where it can take well more than two hours on a yellow dog to play a district game, Shepherd stands alone in the middle of nowhere. In fact, they’re basically on an island by themselves.

The good thing about its five-team district is that one win pretty much assures a team a playoff berth. Shepherd in 2016 had just one district loss — to district champ Bellville — to clinch runner-up.

Shepherd averaged nearly 60 points a game in its three district wins in 2016 while allowing just over 11 points a game. The Pirates went 7-2 in the regular season, with its only other loss a two-point, non-district setback to a Liberty team that went 10-3.

The Pirates then fell to Hardin-Jefferson, 30-28, in the bi-district round.

Shepherd did most of its damage on the ground last year by churning out 285 rushing yards a game which made Nick Truelove’s 1,158 passing yards and 13 passing touchdowns against just two interceptions seem rather pedestrian.

Coach Miles Robinson got the Pirates to their third straight post-season after a very long playoff drought. This means Shepherd football is getting back on the map.

Key Losses
RB Kameron Wright, DT Colton Boatright, LB Joshua Cronin

Wright was a beast in 2016 for his senior campaign, averaging 130 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns a game.

Boatright and Cronin were first-team all-district picks last year.

Key Returners
QB Nick Truelove, RB Trevor Moye, OL Clayton Martinez

Moye was second on the team in rushing with 832 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he led the team in receiving with 427 yards and five touchdowns.

Truelove passed for 1,101 yards and 13 touchdowns and ran for 167 yards and four scores.

The Verdict

The Pirates are starting to make it a habit of making the playoffs, and they don’t appear to be steering off course in 2017.

Truelove and Moye will have the Shepherd offense at mid-season form by the first scrimmage, and the Pirates should be able to play for a district championship against those pesky Bellville Brahmas.

Fans of the Pirates get to enjoy relatively close road trips this year. There are non-district games against traditional district foes with Cleveland, Coldspring and Liberty before opening 11-4A DII on the road at Tarkington. The long road trip in district will be to Brookshire-Royal, with Madisonville and Bellville coming to Pirate Lane this year.

 

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