The 2018 Wildcat Football Team: Where are they headed?

As the fall sports around campus come to an end, the Westminster varsity football team approaches not only the end of the regular season, but the beginning of playoffs as well. The Cats hope to make a strong run in the playoffs, with the goal of the state championship in their minds.

With a record of 6-3 through 9 games, the Cats have had many ups and downs this season. One of those highs was beginning the season with two great wins against Woodward, and the number two ranked 3A team at the time, The GAC Spartans.

Even with this momentum, the Cats faced a two-game stretch where they did not play to their full potential, losing two out-ofegion games to tough Marist and St. Pius teams. Despite this hardship, the team was able to bounce back, going 3-1 since that point.

Defensive Coordinator Neema Salimi has been leading the fierce defense for six seasons and explained how and why the team’s early struggles can fuel them for the post season.

“The season has been pretty challenging. We have a really challenging schedule, and we do that on purpose,” said Salimi. “It prepares us for the playoffs.”

The offense this year is a strong point of the team, led by junior quarterback Parks Harber. Harber, a multi-sport athlete who has committed to the University of Georgia to play baseball, creditited some of the success of the offense to the relatively even ratio of run to pass plays.

“The run vs. pass game is very balanced. The strong run game led by (Will) Hallmark and Paul (Weathington) opens things up for me as a quarterback to throw the ball because when teams watch us on film, they have to be ready for both the pass and the run, and it’s harder for them to anticipate,” said Harber.

Nance Hill, a senior receiver and top target, agreed, explaining how difficult it is for the secondary to guess weather with will be a run or pass play. Hill will be attending the University of Penn to play football, joining former wildcats and Westminster greats, Zay Malcolme, Cortez Alston, and Malcolm Strickland.

The team has been plagued by some crucial injuries, specifically senior linebacker and defensive captain, Matthew Schmal, who tore his ACL in just the third game of the season against St. Pius. In weeks one and two, Schmal at won the weekly coaches defensive player of the game both times. Despite his injury, He has still been a leader on the team and contributed to the team’s success.

“Schmal is one of the leaders on the team as a linebacker, and he has been at practice almost every day, directing the linebackers to what they need to do, and basically just helping in any way he can,” said Hill.

Again, as the team finishes up the season, they are shifting their focus to playoffs. This year’s team is different than any past teams, perhaps giving them an edge as they roll into the post season.

“Depth. This team as opposed to past years has multiple players at each position, all of which ready to go into the game if needed” said Hill. Salimi expanded on this statement, saying how this is what differentiates Westminster from his previous coaching experiences.

“There really isn’t a big drop off between starters and backups, and as a coach I feel comfortable with the depth, something that I didn’t have at my last school, Savannah Country Day” said Salimi. Harber also expanded on the relationship and bond on the team, and how he feels it is different than teams in recent memory.

“I think this year’s team is really close, and some years in the past there have been a lot of different groups within the team, and there wasn’t a lot of ‘gelling’ overall,” said Harber. “It provides a great atmosphere with everyone cheering each other on.”Defense is also a strong point for the team, key players including Chance Loeffler and Jamel Streater.

“The defense has been doing a good job of stopping the run. Both Marist and Pius proposed a different challenge in stopping the option, but neither of those were our best games.” Said Coach Salimi.The numbers show the success of the defensive squad, as they held a competitive Cedar Grove team to 30 points, while they put up 45 on Lovett and 87 on Towers.

On September 21, with a 35-14 win over Towers, Head Coach Gerry Romberg won his 200th game at Westminster. Coach Romberg has many attributes and values as a coach that have allowed him to accomplish this great feat.

“Preparation is huge for him. He draws up hundreds of cards with the opposing teams offensive sets and plays so that our defense can practice against them. Over my four years the coaching staff as a whole specifically coach Romberg has always been great at knowing what to expect on both sides of the ball.” said Hill.

Again, the Cats plan to make a surge in the playoffs. The team has one regular season game versus Lovett next week. And as they head into the playoffs, hopefully the Westminster Wildcats can follow in the 2015 team’s  footsteps and win the state title for the third time in school history.