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SV’s Sheppard choses Azusa Pacific

St. Vincent High School’s record-setting quarterback Mitch Sheppard has agreed to continue his football and his education at Azusa Pacific College in Southern California.

Published: Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 1, 2013 at 11:26 a.m.

St. Vincent High School’s loss is Azusa Pacific University’s gain.

Mitch Sheppard, who spent the last two autumns breaking St. Vincent passing records, has agreed to continue his football career at the private Christian college near Los Angeles.

Sheppard discovered Azusa Pacific while attending a football camp there last summer. “I met the coach and I really liked him,” Sheppard said. “They seemed like good people there and I felt like I would be at home.”

Azusa Pacific went 4-7 last season, winning its last four games. The Cougars return two senior quarterbacks, so Sheppard doesn’t expect to play as a freshman, but expects to be given a chance to compete for playing time the following season.

He leaves St. Vincent holding almost all school single season and career passing records. In two years, plus one touchdown he threw as a sophomore, he attempted 511 passes, completed 185 of them and threw for 55 touchdowns, passing for at least one score in every varsity game he ever played. As a senior, he completed 164 of 280 passes for 2,483 yards and 27 touchdowns, all school records. He had a quarterback rating of 111.

His efforts did not go unrecognized, He was recently named to the Max Preps Division IV All-State second team as a quarterback and the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Small School second team as an all-purpose player, a testimony to his contributions as a place kicker and defensive back as well as his quarterbacking.

Azusa Pacific has the reputation of being a strong academic institution, a consideration for Sheppard, although he isn’t yet sure what his major will be.

Although he played for a Division V school at St. Vincent, Sheppard is convinced he received a solid football education and is ready to compete at the next level. “I am confident in what I can do,” he said. “They run the same offense we run at St. Vincent and I learned a lot from my offensive coordinator Taylor Galloway.

Although St. Vincent’s spread offense was a perfect match for Sheppard’s strong arm and other football abilities, the quarterback emphasized St. Vincent’s success (a 10-3 record, a share of the North Central II/Bay Football League championship and a spot in the North Coast Section Division V championship game) was a total team accomplishment.

“It was a great senior year,” he said. “The best I could ask for. We were really close as a team and that contributed to our success. Our offensive line was great and Derek Murphy’s running really opened up our passing game.”

The 6-foot, 2-inch, 170-pound Sheppard is now in the midst of basketball, trying to help the Mustangs win a league championship in that sport as well.

When he isn’t playing sports, Sheppard likes spending time with his girlfriend and hanging out with his “solid group” of friends. But his main focus is football. “If I could, I would be playing year round, 24-7,” he said.

As Sheppard looks to his future, he does so with the satisfaction of knowing he has already accomplished one of his dreams.

“Michael Carroll (leader of the St. Vincent defense) and I have been going to St. Vincent games since we were in the third or fourth grade,” he said. “We watched Michael’s brother, Colin, win a lot of games and we knew that is what we wanted to do some day.”

For Sheppard, some day at St. Vincent has come and gone with a lot of wins and a league championship, but some day is still ahead for him at Azusa Pacific.

He is the son of Roger and Tracy Sheppard and has three sisters.

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