Shepherd was selected as the favorite to win the West Virginia Conference in the preseason coaches poll released Saturday.
The Rams picked up six of nine first-place votes and garnered 79 poll points. Shepherd posted a 9-2 mark in 2011 and has won five of the last eight conference championships.
Concord, the league's defending champion, was picked second. The Mountain Lions, who fell to Kutztown in the opening round of the NCAA Division II playoffs, received three first-place votes and 71 poll points.
West Virginia Wesleyan was selected third. The Bobcats started last season 9-0 and spent time in the top 20 of the media and coaches' polls before falling in their last two games.
Charleston was fourth in the poll with 50 points. The Golden Eagles are coming off a 5-6 season but went 5-3 in the conference and won their last four games.
Fairmont State edged Glenville State for fifth place. The Falcons went 7-4 last season with a 4-4 WVC record. Glenville went 5-6, including 5-3 in conference play, and handed Concord its only league loss Oct. 8 in Glenville.
West Liberty, coming off a 1-10 season (the second worst in school history since going 0-10 in 1980), was picked seventh, followed by Seton Hill, which edged West Virginia State for eighth place. The Griffins dropped their first eight games of the year before registering a win over West Liberty on Oct. 29.
State's lone win in the last two seasons was a 27-21 decision over Seton Hill last Oct. 1 in Institute, snapping a 13-game losing streak. The Yellow Jackets suffered four losses by eight points or less last season.