After a few weeks of practice, the Shepherd Rams football team hosted their annual spring game at Ram Stadium this past Saturday. With the revolving door that is college athletics, finding players who can replace those who have departed the program is paramount to the continued success on the gridiron.
Over the past few seasons, the Rams defense has carried the offense at times. On Saturday, those roles were reversed.
The offense technically won the spring game, which featured a unique scoring system based upon events during the scrimmage. It has been a long time since a Shepherd offense has operated at such an efficient clip against their defense. Redshirt freshman Malik Harleston of McKinley Tech in Washington, D.C. made a solid impression on the day, taking advantage of his low center-of-gravity and constantly gashing the opposition for positive yardage.
Rising sophomore quarterback Jeff Ziemba looked good in his first game action since the postseason loss to West Chester. The incumbent under center had solid zip on the ball and made many good reads on his receivers routes. “I felt good out there! It was great to get back out on the field on such a nice day. I feel as though the offense played very well for the most part,” Ziemba said. “The mistakes that we made are correctable and that is a great way to end spring ball and head into the summer,” the Delaware native would add.
There was a scary moment during the scrimmage. Kevin Cook of Severna Park, Md. crossed the middle on a drag route and was absolutely crushed by Jaylen Johnson. The hit was nothing short of vicious and saw Cook lay on the ground for more than a couple moments. According to Coach Ernest McCook, the offensive coordinator, it was not a concussion and was most likely a separated shoulder. That would definitely be a positive, because the hit that Cook suffered could easily cause a concussion.
All in all, the day was nothing short of a rousing success for the Shepherd University football program. The stands weren’t full, but there were lots of people in attendance, many of whom were probably out trying to enjoy the beautiful spring weather. Many players were honored before the scrimmage, including Rob Hayes, Howard Jones, C.J. Davis, Ryan Earls and Mike Franklin. Franklin was absent, as we was participating in the NFL Regional Combine.
Shepherd football looks to be in a solid place heading into the summer. When the team returns for practice in August, the squad will have a solid foundation to build upon.