Cater takes successful past to new league

[cleeng_content id="563388921" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]SHEPHERDSTOWN — Twenty-six years at Shepherd. He came when it was a College, and now it’s a University. Thirteen conference champion teams Coach Monte Cater presided over and guided to WVIAC titles.

Thirteen for 26. That’s a .500 batting average Cater, the fervant baseball fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, would know.

In college football, if you win one of every two conference titles you are in rare company.

And Monte Cater is in rare company.

The 13th conference championship came just last year when the Rams were playing in the lame duck West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC), a league that was going to cease to exist after the 2012-13 school year.

Shepherd went through the conference’s final season with a 7-1 record, losing only a one-point verdict on the road to West Liberty.

Monte Cater has coached at Shepherd for 26 years. He won 13 WVIAC titles.

Monte Cater has coached at Shepherd for 26 years. He won 13 WVIAC titles.

Cater’s 26th Shepherd edition became his ninth team to reach either the NAIA or NCAA postseason playoffs. Last year’s Rams were selected to the 24-team NCAA Division II playoffs.

In the last 17 seasons, since 1996, Shepherd has had only one losing season. In both 2005 and 2006, Cater’s Rams went through unbeaten regular seasons at 10-0 and 11-0.

Going back to the 1996 season and moving forward, Shepherd’s overall record since then has been 140-45 (a .757 winning percentage).

Cater was selected Coach of the Year in the old WVIAC some nine times.

With the old league now dissolved and only in history’s background, Cater and the Rams move to the Mountain East Conference.

When the Mountain East’s 11 head football coaches met earlier this month in Bridgeport, they were asked to vote on which team they thought would win the league’s first-ever football championship. They selected Shepherd in balloting that surprised no one.

The infant Mountain East has eight football-playing schools from the now-gone WVIAC, plus Urbana and Notre Dame from Ohio and Wise-Virginia, a school just out of the NAIA ranks in far southwest Virginia.

After six seasons (1981-86) and three conference championships as the head coach at Lakeland, Wisconsin in the Illini-Badger Football Conference, Cater began his now-long career at Shepherd in 1987.

His overall record with the Rams is now 190-87-1 (a .685 winning percentage). And that makes him the winningest coach in school history.

In his 32 years as a head coach, Cater has won 221 games, which is high on the list of career victories for active coaches in the NCAA Division II ranks. When the WVIAC had finished its final season, its history books showed Cater as the leader in all-time career wins with his 190 victories.

The 13 conference championships earned from 1987-2012 were also enough to make Cater the all-time leader in that important category.

Seven times under Cater’s direction Shepherd registered unbeaten WVIAC seasons.

It was in 2010 that Shepherd made its deepest run in the playoffs. After beating Shaw, Kutztown and Mercyhurst, the Rams were in the national semifinals in rural Mississippi playing against Delta State.

This will be Cater’s 27th season at Shepherd. It begins on Sept. 7 against probably the best team on the schedule, unbeaten-in-2012 Shippensburg.

The Mountain East Conference is new. Shepherd has never seen three of the teams in the league.

But the Rams and their reputation, built with Cater’s coaching, go into the new surroundings with the respect earned by the 13 conference championships achieved in 26 years.[/cleeng_content]

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