By Robert Przybylo
Sterling Shepard, Heritage Hall
Team record: 15-0 (3A state champions)
Stats: 56 catches for 1,015 yards and 18 touchdowns. 50 carries for 575 yards and 10 touchdowns. Three touchdown passes. Six interception/kick returns for scores. 103 tackles and eight interceptions.
The case: Really? Do I really have to write something? Can I not just show the second half of the championship game against Kingfisher and say ‘case closed?’
Shepard’s sophomore season was an uneven one, marred by concussions and trying to actually find his place with the team. That was not a problem as a junior.
Running back Barry J. Sanders got a lot of the attention coming in, but it’s Shepard who is getting just as much publicity heading into his senior season.
And why not? There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do on the field this season. Heritage Hall staff had no problem just telling quarterback Cooper Cloud to throw it up there and let Shepard go make a play. And nine times out of 10, that was exactly what Shepard did.
He could turn a game around at the receiver spot. In the playoffs, he showed he had the toughness to be the running back. And he never avoided a big collision in the secondary. Heck, there was one play in the championship where Shepard went head on with Kingfisher’s Derek Patterson. It was a meeting of the two best players on the field. Both survived and went back to their huddles.
Shepard didn’t get much attention with Barry J. Sanders in the same backfield. It’s not like when Sanders went down, Shepard became a different player. It was more that with Sanders out, people just started to notice what Shepard was doing more.
Following his masterful performance against Kingfisher, it was less than a week after that Oklahoma State offered Shepard. Could it be a sign of things to come for Shepard at Boone Pickens Stadium?
Heritage Hall coach Andy Bogert sums it up beautifully:
“When Barry went down, we modeled things for Sterling (Shepard) like we had for Wes (Welker),” Bogert said. “Put him everywhere so nobody could find him. That’s what teams were trying to do was figure out where he’s at and double him. Good players are always going to find a way.”
Having a bubbly and respectful demeanor doesn’t make him a good football player, but it’s easy to see why people gravitate toward his personality. His spirit is infectious.
The best thing about Shepard? We get to see him for one more season.
Voting for the first NewsOK.com Player of the Year is open until Friday. Every day this week Varsity writers Robert Przybylo and Scott Wright will tell you why a certain player should win the award. The winner will be announced Jan. 2, the same day The Oklahoman’s All-State team comes out.
Monday: Sterling Shepard, Heritage Hall (Przybylo)
Tuesday: David Glidden, Mustang (Wright)
Wednesday: Brandon Swindall, Millwood (Wright)
Thursday: Aliston Cobb, Douglass (Wright)
Friday: Kentrell Brothers, Guthrie (Przybylo)