Titans ranked 7th in PAC pre-season football poll
VIDEO with Coach Jeff Hand
Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 6, 2012 11:08
LATROBE, Pa.-- The coaches, athletic directors, student-athletes and sports information directors for members of the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) gathered in the shadow of the Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp at St. Vincent's College in Latrobe on Thursday. That's where they cast ballots in the PAC's pre-season poll as part of the annual PAC Media Day. The Westminster Titans came in at #7.
Four-time defending conference champion Thomas More College was selected to capture the 2012 football championship in the PAC.
Westminster eighth-year head coach Jeff Hand and senior wide receiver Geno Pasquinelli both spoke at the news conference. For the Titans, the coaching staff and team is looking to give Thomas More and other PAC members a run this season.. Westminster has a void left by the 18 seniors who graduated from the 2010 team, the largest senior class since 2000.
New leadership will be called upon from the 13 returning starters (6 offense, 6 defense, 1 specialist). The Titans lost 11 starters, nine senior starters, from the 2010 team that posted a 2-8 record and a seventh-place record of 1-6 in the Presidents' Athletic Conference. Half of the Titans' losses were in one-possession games, including a road loss by one point and another road loss decided in triple overtime.
"While we are eager to put last year behind us, the players returning this year learned valuable lessons," said seventh-year head coach Jeff Hand. "They got to play in some close games and they played alongside a large group of seniors."
Coach Hand also talked at the PAC Media Day news conference about the quarterback Sean Lehocky graduation and how the Titan's will work to replace him.
Here's the complete results from the pre-season poll as voted on by coaches, media members and others attending the Media Day event:
1. Thomas More College, 223 points
2. Washington & Jefferson College, 188 points
3. Waynesburg University, 165 points
4. Bethany College, 117 points
5. Saint Vincent College, 114 points
6. Geneva College, 105 points
7. Westminster College, 101 points
8. Grove City College, 79 points
9. Thiel College, 32 points
The Titans will play five home games at Harold Burry Stadium including two night games; its season opener vs. nonconference-foe Hiram Sept. 1 and against Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC)-foe Saint Vincent Sept. 22, both games starting at 7 p.m. The 2012 slate also includes two "bye" weeks.
After hosting Hiram, the Titans will rest during one of their "bye" weeks before traveling to Thomas More Sept. 15 at 1:30 p.m. for its PAC opener.
Westminster then plays seven games against PAC teams. After its home night game against Saint Vincent, the other three home PAC games, all starting at 1 p.m., include Grove City for Homecoming (Sept. 29), Bethany (Oct. 20), and Thiel (Nov. 3).
In addition to Thomas More, the other three road games are at Washington & Jefferson (Oct. 13, 1 p.m.), Waynesburg (Oct. 27, 1:30 p.m.), and at Geneva (Nov. 11, 1 p.m.) in the season-finale rivalry game.
The complete schedule is:
Sept. 1 -- HIRAM -- 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 -- BYE
Sept. 15 -- @ Thomas More* -- 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 22 -- SAINT VINCENT* -- 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 -- GROVE CITY* (Homecoming) -- 1 p.m.
Oct. 6 -- BYE
Oct. 13 -- @ Washington & Jefferson - 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 -- BETHANY* -- 1 p.m.
Oct. 27 -- @ Waynesburg - 1:30 p.m.
Nov. 3 -- THIEL* -- 1 p.m.
Nov. 10 -- @ Geneva -- 1 p.m.
HOME GAMES IN CAPS
*Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) games
Most notably on offense is the loss of four linemen with senior Adam Fueller as the only returner. However, the Titans return the top four rushers, top three receivers and senior quarterback Shawn Lehocky (right).
"Most of our offensive line graduated but it's much easier to transition when you have all of your running backs, wide receivers and quarterbacks returning," Hand said.
A one-year starter, Lehocky is ranked 10th in team history with 2,766 passing yards including 155-of-293 for 1,726 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. He also rushed for 310 yards and four scores last year after running up 446 yards and seven scores as a reserve in 2009.
His favorite target will likely be junior receiver Geno Pasquinelli, a second-team all-PAC selection, who caught 48 passes for 514 yards and six touchdowns despite having an injury that reduced him to six starts and limited action in three other games.
Junior Connor Kobis and sophomore Collin Wallace are also back after catching 31 passes for 383 yards and 22 balls for 290 yards, respectively, in their first years as starters.
Junior running back John Proano led the Titans in rushing last year with 121 totes for 530 yards and two touchdowns in eight starts. Sophomore Tyler Banks is also back after rushing 73 times for 318 yards and a team-high five rushing touchdowns in 2010.