A year after experiencing the disappointment of falling to eventual state runner-up Oconee County in the first round of the GHSA Class 3A playoffs, Westminster is seeking another postseason run in 2021.
The Wildcats, who finished 4-4, return eight starters on offense and five on defense.
“If we can find linemen to replace the five we had up front last year, this team has excellent chances,” said Westminster assistant coach Joe Sturniolo, who handles media duties for head coach Gerry Romberg. “A QB (and) four of the top five rushers from last year return. There were 66 pass completions last year, (and) 64 of them went to players returning this year. Only 35% of last year’s tackles were made by returning players, so there will be holes to fill on defense, particularly the LB corps.”
The Wildcats will miss eight graduated starters, including some college signees – RB/CB Andrew Dotson, who tore his ACL in the first game of the 2020 season, plus LB Lowell Jones (Virginia; leading tackler with 83 stops in eight games, including 11 for loss), OL Ejike Adele (Dartmouth), George Corbin, Kiran Gadde, Mark Mahan and Taji Flynn and all-state P Connor Wesselman (Stanford; 42 yards per punt)
Westminster will be led by five seniors – RB/S Robert Clarke (team-high 372 yards rushing; 45 tackles, 1 INT on defense), WR Henry Chartrand (16.3 yards per catch, 2 TDs), all-state TE/DE Holden Staes (Notre Dame commitment; team-high 14 catches for 244 yards, 17.4 yards per catch, 3 TDs), SB/S Denton Shamburger (highest returning tackler with 27 tackles, 3 INTs) and K/P Alex Bacchetta (Penn State commitment; all-state kicker with 8 FGs, no misses under 45 yards and 88% touchbacks on kickoffs) – and two juniors – QB John Collier (4 passing TDs, averaged 84 passing yards per game) and RB Quinton Ezzard (second on team in rushing with 304 yards).
“Our goal each year is to make the playoffs,” Sturniolo said. “What happens after that is a bit of a crapshoot, depending on your draw. Last year’s playoff opponent was excellent, reaching the state finals. We play in the toughest region in 3A (GAC, Sandy Creek, Cedar Grove, Douglass), so our primary focus is again on making the playoffs.”