Mingo Central’s defense is led by a young man who will deliver a hit and see how you respond. Intent on breaking his opponents’ will early in games Westan Christian is the type of linebacker about which coaches dream. His journey started long ago at a very young age.
“When I was a little kid, my dad had these VHS tapes and we’d watch him play,” Westan said. “He played the same positions I play now, which is running back and linebacker.”
Westan knew early on that, just like his father before him, he loved the game of football.
“We were always a football family and on Saturdays and Sundays we would watch college and the pros on TV together,” he said. “It was always just a thing for me, and ever since I made the jump from little league b-team to middle school I knew I loved the game and have ever since.”
Since the first day he walked into the Mingo Central program, he knew he was somewhere special, and began taking in as much from the environment around him to learn how to become the player he knew he was capable of becoming.
“So, when I came in my freshman year, I was around like 140 pounds, and I didn’t know it at the time but I was walking into a team that would win a state title,” Westan said. “I had never been a part of something like that, and being 140 pounds and around some of the leaders on the team and seeing how big they were, it kind of made me feel bad about myself.
“So, I started lifting heavy, and by my sophomore year I’d put on about 25 pounds,” he continued. “Even then, I still knew I needed to be stronger, so going into my junior year I got up to close to 200 pounds. Then I went to a Glennville State camp and my 40-yard dash was a 5.3, which is awful, so I knew I needed to get my speed right if I wanted to be elite. So now I’m about 175. I’ve lost a little strength, but not enough to tell a difference because I still work out a lot, But a few months ago I went to a UC (University of Charleston) camp and ran a 4.9.”
Christian has constantly improved his game and if you watch his film, his awareness of the ball’s location is uncanny and his feel for the game is exceptionally smooth. His strength and speed are a deadly combination that allows him to meet opposing linemen and backs head-on in the gaps, while also being able to go sideline-to-sideline pursuing plays that are typically out of reach for most linebackers.
Westan has one goal in mind for the season and that is a state title.
“Winning the state title is always the goal, and getting coach (Joey) Fields back is a blessing,” Westan said. “He is an offensive guru and when you give him the best QB in the state of West Virginia, with the wide receiver core we have, we are going to be tough. As far as defense is concerned our D-line is loaded with studs, which makes my job super easy because I can focus on finding the ball faster when they are constantly drawing double teams.”
In this upcoming season the Miners are going to participate in their first-ever Pike County Bowl and the compelling matchup between them and Pikeville is going to be one for the ages. But, the Miners are at a slight disadvantage given then amount of time allotted for Kentucky teams to practice versus. West Virginia teams.
“Including the state championship team I played on, this has been the best three-week period I’ve been apart of because like I said having Coach Fields back is a blessing, but besides being a guru on offense, his pregame speeches are like he is leading us into war,” Westan said. “To have him, Coach Sammons, Terry Joe, along with coach Lester is huge. We know how big this season is just from last year and seeing what we got to do, and we see who we have game one (Pikeville), and to have those guys behind us pushing us, we will be ready.
“We have done a lot of conditioning this offseason even going back to June, it’s been more than we have ever done, but guys respond well to it and we push each other because we know what is at steak this season,” he continued.
With a young man like this leading the Mingo Central defense it’s easy to assume the Miners will be better on defense this season and combing that with arguably the most explosive offense in West Virginia, the Miners are poised to compete for another state title.
Christian is poised to have a bigger season than he ever has this year and is one player to watch in the state when it comes to defense. He will definitely light up the highlight reel with his big hits and improved skills.
Christian plays with as much passion as you could ask for and Miner fans will be happy to see that this year as Christian and the Miners look to secure another state title.