The WVIAC football coaches have decided in their annual pre-season vote that Shepherd will be the conference’s 2012 champion. The vote by the nine coaches saw Shepherd receive six first-place votes and defending champion Concord get the other three first-place votes.
Shepherd has won five conference championships since 2004.
West Virginia Wesleyan was tagged for third place followed in order by Charleston, Fairmont, Glenville, West Liberty, Seton Hill, and West Virginia State.
The Shepherd defense has nine returning starters including end Howard Jones, Corey Washington and Keon Robinson in the secondary, linebacker Dominic Tolson, and tackle Mike Franklin. Quarterback Bobby Cooper will be in his second year as a starter and halfback Kenny Williams had 842 yards rushing in 2011.
Concord was 7-1 in the WVIAC and 7-4 overall. West Virginia Wesleyan was 6-2 in the conference and 9-2 overall as it tied Shepherd for second place. Charleston had a 5-3 league record and was 5-6 overall after winning its last four games. Fairmont was 4-4 in league games and 7-4 overall. Glenville went 5-3 in the league and 5-6 overall.
West Liberty, Seton Hill, and West Virginia State all finished with 1-7 WVIAC records.