New Castle News
LATROBE — The Westminster College football is looking for a slight edge.
It eluded the Titans last year as they finished 3-6. Four of those losses came by six points or less.
So, Westminster coach Jeff Hand is seeking more focus this year from his Titans, who were picked to finish seventh in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference annual preseason poll at PAC Media Day at Saint Vincent College.
Defending PAC champ Washington & Jefferson, Thomas More, Waynesburg, Grove City, Bethany and Geneva were picked to finish ahead of Westminster. Thiel and Saint Vincent rounded out the nine-team poll.
“We just have to finish games. Early on the in the year, we didn’t finish all the games we needed to finish,” Hand said. “We need that slight edge that’ll make the difference. The little things we do every day consistently compound over time to make us better. They are easy for us to do or not to do. We just have to have that slight edge to better our record.”
Hand will look to his 24 seniors to help boost the Titans, who have not had a winning record since 2002 (6-4).
“Of our 15 returning starters, 13 are seniors. I think that’s very important from a leadership standpoint, but I think it’s also very important from a chemistry standpoint,” he said. “With that number of seniors, we’re looking for a lot of leadership.”
Westminster will lean on Sean Christofferson for guidance. The senior defensive end is a four-year starter and was an All-PAC second team selection last fall. The Wilmington High graduate was the team’s player representative yesterday.
“We have 26 seniors, which is a lot since I have been at Westminster. All of the seniors are great guys and we’re all excited for the season,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re all on the same page as far as leadership goes and trying to motivate the other guys to want the same thing.”
The Titans are aiming for a winning season. However, Christofferson, who went 55-6 with four District 10 titles and a state championship during his all-state high school career with the Greyhounds, wants more.
“A successful year would be a winning season, but I have bigger aspirations. I’d like to have a PAC championship, just like everybody else,” he said. “Knowing this is the last season of football I’ll ever play means a lot to me and it’s very motivating for me to work harder this year and try to do the best I can do.
“It motivates a lot of us. We need to motivate more people. We need everyone to step up and want the same goal.”
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive lineman led Westminster with four sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss last year. In addition, his 46 tackles were tops among Titans linemen.
“It’s been great to have him. Anytime you can get an all-state local player to stay home is very special. We loved bringing in Sean and we think he had a tremendous freshman year. He got everybody’s attention in the conference quickly,” Hand said. “He improves every single year. I know he gets a little caught up in the statistics and things. But, the reality is he has gotten better every year and he’s been a great cornerstone of our line and he’s going to be a cornerstone of our defense. He is a great student. He puts the work in on and off the field. He’s been great for us.”
Christofferson can’t believe his senior season is about to begin next week when the team opens camp.
“It’s really eye opening. When I first got to college, the seniors were all talking about how time flies and I thought they were nuts. Now, I can see they were right. Time really does fly and, before you know it, you’re done. Mentally, it makes me think about everything and look at the bigger picture and enjoy it that much more.”
Once he graduates, the biology major hopes to head back to school.
“I hope to be a physician’s assistant. I want to go to school for that. That’s been a goal of mine for some time now,” he said. “Hopefully, working hard toward it, that will pay off.”