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Plum grad named Westminster football coach

| Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Westminster College athletics
Plum graduate Scott Benzel was named the Westminster College head football coach Jan. 10, 2014.

Plum native and Plum High School graduate Scott Benzel has more than a decade of college football coaching experience.

He has made several stops along the way in different NCAA divisions.

Benzel's latest landing spot is his first head-coaching position.

Last week, he was named the new head coach at Westminster College in Division III, and he will be charged with leading a Titans program that was 4-6 in 2013 and 34-55 in nine seasons under the direction of former head coach Jeff Hand.

Hand resigned as Westminster's football coach in late November.

“I'm really excited for this opportunity,” Benzel said.

“I'm looking forward to meeting all the players and getting involved with the offseason, with recruiting and putting a staff together. I'm eager to hit the ground running and get the season started.”

Benzel most recently was the associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator at St. Francis (Pa.) University in Division I in 2012 and 2013.

He helped improve St. Francis from 120th in total defense in the Football Championship Subdivision to 10th.

Benzel spent a bulk of his coaching career — nine seasons — at Division I Robert Morris. In his first two seasons as co-defensive coordinator, he helped the Colonials lead the conference in total defense.

Benzel also helped guide Robert Morris to a share of the Northeast Conference regular-season championship and the league's inaugural bid to the NCAA FCS playoffs.

During his time at Robert Morris, Benzel coached safety Robb Butler, who went on to play in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers.

Benzel has experience at the Division III level, as he coached defensive backs and was the recruiting coordinator at Wittenburg University in Ohio for the 2004 season.

“There is a lot of support for the Titan football program, and you can certainly tell they want to see the Titans get back to being the powerhouse they used to be,” Benzel said.

While Westminster put together a string of strong seasons, including a national title, at the NAIA level in the mid 1990s, Benzel was playing at Mercyhurst College.

A two-year starter at free safety for the Lakers, he was named the defensive MVP for the squad as a senior in 1996.

He led the team in interceptions and pass breakups in 1995 and 1996.

Benzel's foundation for playing and coaching at the collegiate level was formed and fostered at Plum in the early 1990s under head coach Bill Rometo.

The 1993 Plum graduate was a two-year starter for the Mustangs at cornerback and wide receiver.

“I have followed his career, and I knew it was only a matter of time before he became a college head coach,” Rometo said.

“When he was at Plum, he was a student of the game. He listened to every word the coaches said and he took in everything.

“We beat Woodland Hills his senior year (25-21), and I remember that he had a great game defensively to help us win that game. I hope to catch a couple of his games, and I know I will sit there like a proud father.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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