Anderson has had an incredible run the past two years – capturing a Division II state title in 2007 and a state runner-up finish in '08. However, one of the biggest stories this offseason was how the school was moving back to Division I after the new OHSAA divisional breakdowns were released this spring.
The Redskins will be at the Division I level during the 2009 and '10 seasons and the school could be the smallest school in Region 4 this fall.
Head coach Jeff Giesting said the move wasn't unexpected, but it will certainly make it a challenge to reach the postseason. He said earlier this spring he figured Anderson would have to win a minimum of eight games to qualify for the postseason.
Despite the move to Division I, Anderson returns a talented squad so let's take a look at the 2009 edition:
2008 RECORD: 12-3, 4-1 FAVC-Buckeye
COACHING: Giesting begins his second season as the Redskins' head coach. He has led Anderson to the state finals in his first two years and is 25-5 overall after being a longtime assistant to former head coach Vince Suriano from 1988 to 2006. Giesting was the defensive coordinator from 2000-06. He was named the Cincinnati Bengals' Coach of the Year in mid-December last year. He calls the defense, while Mike Cook is the offensive coordinator.
OFFENSE: The Redskins return five starters, including offensive lineman Andrew Norwell, who has orally committed to Ohio State. The 6-foot-6, 270-pounder is rated among the top offensive linemen in the nation and is the best offensive lineman Anderson has ever produced. Norwell, a Division II First-Team All-State selection, will have a key role in the offense this fall.
One of the players who will benefit from Norwell is senior running back Kyle Slater, who rushed for 2,223 yards and scoring 31 touchdowns a year ago. Slater, a First-Team All-State selection, had 917 yards on 148 carries in the playoffs. He is a Division I college prospect.
Senior Brandon Bornhauser replaces Daniel Rod as the team's quarterback. Rod, who signed with Xavier University for baseball, led the Redskins to the state title in '07 and a state runner-up finish in '08. Rod threw for 1,213 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He also rushed four touchdowns.
Bornhauser was a very versatile player for Anderson last season. He was 15-of-27 for 207 yards passing and a touchdown. He also rushed 42 times for 291 yards and four touchdowns. He also had nine receptions for 142 yards.
"We feel Brandon will step in at quarterback for Daniel and have a solid senior season," Giesting said.
Other top players on offense include senior OL Greg Mancz and senior OL Kevin Hetrick – both of whom are returning starters.
DEFENSE: Four returning starters highlight the Redskins' defense, which allowed just 18.4 points per game last season.
Senior nose tackle Tyler Knabb, senior linebacker Jake Lackner and senior defensive back Kevin Cripe will be leaders that the Redskins will look to on the field. Cripe was second on the team with two interceptions last season.
Other key players to look for include senior defensive backs Caleb Correll and Matt Pucillo, junior linebacker Tony Martini, and junior defensive backs Chris Singleton and Thomas Krutka.
The Redskins allowed just 185 rushing yards per game and 104 passing last season. Although there are some young players, the defense should be solid again.
Aug. 28 – vs. Taft
Sept. 4 – vs. Woodward
Sept. 11 – vs. Boone County
Sept. 18 – at Columbus DeSales
Sept. 25 – vs. Amelia
Oct. 2 – vs. Winton Woods
Oct. 9 – at Loveland
Oct. 16 – at Glen Este
Oct. 23 – vs. Milford
Oct. 30 – at Harrison
FINAL TAKE: Area fans will be curious to find out how this team fares at the Division I level, but don't count the Redskins out. There are several experienced players who have played in state championship games and know how to achieve success. Keep in mind this team has gone 16-4 in regular season games over the past two seasons.
"I think this team knows how to win," Giesting said. "The senior class has been successful since they were freshmen. We have good size on the offensive line and quickness on defense."
With several seniors on both sides of the ball, Anderson should definitely contend for the Buckeye division title – a title it last won during the 2007 season.
An October 9 game versus Winton Woods and an October 30 game at Harrison will be interesting.