By Luke Wiggs, Panhandle News Network Sports
Martinsburg, W.Va– I must confess: these steamy 80+ degree summer days have me looking longingly to the crisp fall afternoons in Shepherdstown watching the next generation of Rams play.
Now is the time in every program’s offseason that contains an abundance of irresponsible optimism about what their club can achieve in the upcoming campaign.
In an effort to scratch the football itch, let’s instead look backward to Ram seasons of old and some of the best to ever carry the rock for the blue and gold (since 1980).
T-5. Dalevon Smith 2000: 1495 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns
Starting the list off with a guy who averaged 6.5 yards per carry means, well, it’s a pretty strong list. Smith led Division II in rushing yards per game (166) and the Rams to a 7-3 record. 267 of those yards came in their 56-0 season finale against West Virginia Wesleyan. Smith began his career at Merced community college and surely doesn’t regret his jaunt across the country to Shepherdstown.
T-5. Deonte Glover 2019: 1359 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns
Nice to see some local flavor on the list with a Musselman Appleman checking in at #5. After 3 seasons of 847 rushing yards combined, Glover’s final for the Rams may have come as a surprise. Glover even got off to a slow start with just 137 yards and 1 score on the ground through the first 4 games, the next 9 he had 1,222 and 18. It led to a first-team all-PSAC East selection. He also added 385 receiving yards and a kickoff return for a touchdown for good measure. Shepherd finished 10-3. Glover is another example of a Ram who didn’t regret the move to the Panhandle (he began at WVU) and was drafted 23rd overall into the Canadian Football League.
T-5. Damian Beane 1999: 1,590 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns
Beane’s accolades are incredible: 2x Harlan Hill finalist, 2x WVIAC POTY, 4x ALL WVIAC, and when he completed his career, he led both Shepherd and the WVIAC conference in career rushing (6,768) and touchdowns (61) while eclipsing 1,000 yards in all 4 seasons. In this particular effort, he helped the Rams finish 9-2.
4. Tommy Addison 2010: 1670 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns
A season where the Rams as a team rushed for 2,870 yards (1,600 more than their opponents) was highlighted by Addison’s performance. Nate Hoyte and his 18 touchdowns that season may have kept Addison from appearing higher on the list, but I don’t think he, and the 12-2 national semi-finalist Rams seemed to mind. Addison will be remembered as a workhorse with 2 games with 25 carries that season.
3. Ronnie Brown 2022: 1,863 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns
The baddest man in Shepherdstown may appear to be a recency bias pick, but let’s look at the numbers. He finished 2nd in the nation in rushing yards and led all of Division II football with an astounding 8.47 yards per carry. Brown also added 589 yards and 5 scores as a receiver just for fun. For a team that featured the greatest quarterback in college football history, it was Brown who stole the show in the postseason with a remarkable 875 all-purpose yards and 8 touchdowns through 4 games. While Shepherd again came up just short in their quest for a title, Ronnie stamped his name emphatically into the annals of Ram history.
2. Dervon Wallace 2007: 2,138 rushing yards
Not much can be found about this historic season, only that the rushing mark is still the highest in program history. Wallace also had a 311-yard game against West Virginia State which is also a program record. The multi-time WVIAC player of the year finished as a Ram with 67 career touchdowns which also tops a program record. The fact the Maryland native accomplished this all standing at 5’7 makes it all even more impressive.
1. Damian Beane 1998: 2,096 rushing yards
Oh hey, it’s that Beane guy again. This particular season he set the WVIAC conference record for rushing yards. You’d think this would be enough to win the Harlan but enter Brian Shay. Emporia State’s Shay set THEIR rushing record with 2,265 yards and 29 touchdowns finishing his career as the all-time leading rusher in college football history. Shay also won the award by the highest margin in its history. Poor timing for Beane and the 10-2 Rams.
As an aside, I also wanted to nod to Beane’s 30-carry effort in the 1998 9-6 postseason victory against IUP, surely one of the greatest rock fights in Ram history.