FRANKFORT — The joys of coaching and teaching at Frankfort High School come to fruition in years like this for head coach Nick Anderson. He teaches business at the school. A Frankfort alum, he’s entering his 14th year at the school.
Anderson also used to coach middle school kids in the same area, which means some of them have been around him for the better part of six years.
“I’m excited for this year,” Anderson said. “We have a lot of kids who have played at a young age, and now hopefully it’s their time to reap the benefits of being thrown in at such an early age. We have a lot of guys coming back with a lot of experience.”
One is Garrett Dalinghaus. He is the Wildcats’ stud running back and linebacker who earned all-league honors for the 8-Man Division II program last season.
“He’s done a great job in the weight room and is our strongest, fastest kid,” Anderson said. “He has the most experience, so we are going to rely on him heavily to take the bulk of our carries. He is our best defensive player and has had over 100 tackles in the last couple years. We are really looking forward to seeing what Garrett can do now that he is a senior.”
Anderson hopes it goes as well as last season, when the Wildcats went 7-3. It was the best record for Frankfort since 2009, when it went 8-3. It doubled as the Wildcats’ first postseason berth since 2011. And they started the 2018 campaign 6-0, which was their first time starting 5-0 or better since 1998, when they won their first five games.
Anderson said being around the same group of young men for longer than the standard three-to-four-year high school football career has helped him understand their strengths and weaknesses better.
That plays into some of the successful decisions he’s made with personnel on the field.
Branden Bussman, a senior, once was the Wildcats’ quarterback. Now, he’s moving to the backfield as an elusive playmaker. This propelled junior Gavin Cornelison to the starting spot under center.
“When Gavin was a freshman and Branden was QB and went down for a week or two, Gavin stepped in and held his own for being that young,” Anderson said. “Last year when Trey Estes got hurt, we made the decision to move Branden to tight end. Again Gavin started the two playoff games and held his own. So we just think as a way to utilize all the skillsets and make our team as strong as possible, that move needed to be made.”
Anderson said he feels him and the team have the system down for summer preparation after four years of him being the school’s head coach. Nothing significant is changing in the workout programs or the preparation because the kids he’s coached for six years understand the culture and what he wants to do with his teams. The Wildcats are confident; they know how they are going to play on both sides of the ball.
Most of the roster is home-grown kids, and Anderson can relate to that. It’s what makes his job that much more enjoyable, pairing with winning football games in bulk.
“That’s why people get into education and coaching: to see the development of kids,” Anderson said. “There is a security blanket for them being around me for so long, and it’s the same for me. I trust the kids, know what they are capable of and what they can handle, so that’s nice. But that’s the biggest joy of education is helping these young kids grow into young men and helping them be successful outside of high school.”