By Jacob Flatley Sports Editor
Although we do not know the site of the game yet, we do know that West Liberty is set to face nationally ranked Shepherd to open up their 2014 football campaign. The Shepherd Rams will come into the game ranked 14th in the D2Football.com Preseason Poll and 12th in AFCA NCAA II Preseason Poll. The two teams did not meet last season as West Liberty finished 3-8 and Shepherd finished 11-1.
West Liberty looks to rebound from an uncharacteristic losing season under head coach Roger Waialae.
Last year was only the second sub .500 season in Waialae’s decade at the Hilltopper helm.
The last time these two schools met was in the 2012 season when West Liberty upset Shepherd on homecoming 17-16.
Monte Cater and the Rams return just 12 starters from last year’s team who made it all the way to the Division II quarterfinals. The list of starters back includes QB Jeff Ziemba and RBs Jabre Lolley and Allen Cross.
“The film we have has shown that they are a pretty disciplined team and they play as a team,” said West Liberty defensive end Quentin Sifford.
“The defensive line and offensive line have to be the strength because that’s where it starts from. We both have to set the tone on Saturday early,” he continued.
Waialae returns 41 lettermen from a 2013 team which boasted one of the nation’s top NCAA Division II defensive units.
The defense could even be better with the return of All-American safety Marco Ricchetti and senior DB Pierre Blake.
On the offensive side of the ball, Brandon Schroder will see his first action on Saturday in two years as he sat out last season.
The competition at quarterback is still brewing between last year’s starter Dylan LaGarde and Dakota Conwell, a transfer from the University of Arizona.
“My overall expectations are to be able to play on an emotional level with the team. It means playing hard and playing fast and everything else should fall into place for the win,” said All-MEC strong safety Andrew Faraimo.
“Shepherd is a good football team, but we have beaten them before. They have a lot of All- MEC players and to win this game it is going to take listening to the coaching.
We are going to have to execute plays and technique that our coaches have taught us throughout camp,” Faraimo continued.
As of right now the game will be played at West Family Stadium on the campus of West Liberty with kick off set for 1pm.
Continue to read The Trumpet and The Trumpet Online for more details and updates about the game.