WINTERSVILLE - These are good times in Andrew Connor's life.
He is coaching in his home community. He has his Indian Creek program riding the wave of uncharted success. And his son is a star linebacker for the Redskins.
With that as the foundation, Connor embarks on his second decade as Indian Creek's football coach, having compiled a 55-45 record during that time.
The last two seasons have been extra special at Robert Kettlewell Stadium, both of which have resulted in Redskins playoff berths.
Last fall, Indian Creek went 9-2, losing to Division II state runner-up St. Clairsville in the regular season before bowing to Steubenville in the opening round of the playoffs. In that week 11 contest, the Redskins acquitted themselves quite impressively.
Connor's crew enters 2013 with loads of confidence, due, in part, to winning 15 of its last 16 games.
"It's hard to believe that I am starting my 11th year as head coach here,'' Connor said. ''I have been very fortunate. I have had great kids to coach, a super group of assistant coaches and a community that embraces our program.
"Last year our goal was to show that we were no one-hit wonders after making the playoffs the previous season. We accomplished that. Now we are shooting for consistency. We want to be in the playoff picture every year."
Connor also takes great pride in some accomplishments his players have achieved off the field.
"Our kids are deeply involved in community service. They are committed to it," he said. "We also have been Academic All-Ohio the last two years and we are drug free."
Indian Creek instituted drug testing this year for extracurricular activities.
While Connor is optimistic about his Redskins chances this fall, it is tempered by the loss of a talented and deep senior class. Graduation claimed 18 Redskins.
The benefits of winning are boundless, which plays big into Connor's 11th edition.
"We are a senior-laden team,'' he said. ''They have been through the wars and experienced winning. But like every other school, staying healthy will be a big key."
Another big key is under center. Indian Creek featured a dynamic, big-play quarterback in 2012. Alex Young, however, has since departed after a superb Redskins career, starring in four sports.
As August drills were playing out, Connor was utilizing a pair of signal-callers in senior Jonathan Woodbury and sophomore Chris Mazar.
Woodbury is a 6-foot, 210-pound senior with two letters to his credit. Mazar (5-10, 165) is a sophomore.
They both will see duty, directing many different looks, as Connor says the Redskins will employ multiple offensive sets, under the guidance of offensive coordinator Joe Hammack, a former Indian Creek standout.
One of the strengths of Indian Creek in 2013 will be its offensive front.
"Our offensive line should be real strong. We have good experience and depth," Connor said.
The Redskins' O-line is anchored at center by Mark Wojciechowski (5-10, 210), who returns as a regular with two letters to his credit.
Wojciechowski will be flanked by a pair of quality guards in the battle-tested tandem of Paul Eakle (6-2, 275) and Justin Gibson (5-10, 230). Eakle is a senior letterman while Gibson is a wo-year letter-winning junior.
The starting tackles also have a seasoned look in senior lettermen Nathan Beatty (5-9, 245) and Tyler West (5-10, 230).
Depth is provided in quality form by a trio of performers.
Expected to see extensive duty is junior letterman Luke Carroll (5-11, 200), along with junior Nick Fortunato (6-1, 210) and promising sophomore Zach Williams (5-10, 205).
Indian Creek is blessed to have a pair of quality tight ends.
Zachary Williams (6-1, 240) returns as a two-year letterman. Christian Getsy (6-1, 210) at times will be paired with Williams in one of the many Indian Creek offensive schemes.
The running back picture is a bright one.
Connor loves his fullback Zac Conner (6-0, 215), a junior, who also happens to be Andrew's son. The younger Connor will deliver the tough inside yardage while also serving as a bulldozing lead blocker.
A two-headed monster will deliver the yardage at halfback. Blake Roar and Tran Huynh will share time. Roar (5-9, 185) is a senior with three letters to his credit. Huynh (5-8, 170) is a two-year letter-winning senior.
"Both Blake and Tran saw a lot of time last year and played well," Connor said. "They complement each other nicely and both should see a lot of carries."
A trio of receivers are leading the way for starting pass-grabbing duties.
Speedy senior, and two-year letterman Corey Goodrich (5-7, 170) provides the Redskins with a deep threat.
Two other seniors will vie for regular duty in Johnny Haught (5-9, 180) and Tyler Lathem (5-8, 170).
Additional depth is offered by versatile Zac Crawford (5-7, 145), a junior lettermen who can also be utilized at quarterback.
The Indian Creek defense is scripted by former Shadyside High grid great Sean Grinch. The Redskins will align in a 4-3 look.
Zachary Williams and Getsy will be a terrorizing tandem at end.
Woodbury and Carroll will spell the starters.
Gibson and West will be the tackles with Eakle also in the mix.
Linebackers have always been an Indian Creek strength. Connor is the defensive glue from his middle linebacker post. He was second on the team in tackles as a sophomore.
Latham will be an active outside linebacker while the other will be juniors Michael Puorro (5-9 165) or Zach Williams. Two sophomore are pushing hard for outside backer time. They are Isiah Pavlic (5-11, 160) and Jonathan Daily (5-11, 180).
Goodrich and Huynh will be lockdown cornerbacks while Roar and Haught will patrol the deep zones as safety. Roar will have few peers at safety as he is a three-year starter in the secondary.
Mazar and Crawford should see time in support.
"We lost some quality players from last year's defense," Connor said. "But we should be quicker than last season. We have kids who like to play physical and be active. I feel we have the makings of a real solid defensive unit."
Zachary Williams and Nathan Beatty handle the kicking and punting chores.
Indian Creek will face the same 10 foes as in 2012. One new twist is the Redskins will launch the season Thursday, playing host to Weir in the McDonald's Kickoff Classic.
Week 2 will deliver a stern test as the Redskins travel to East Liverpool to face a Potters team with 18 returning lettermen. Oak Glen is the third out-of-Buckeye 8 Conference foe.
"We are excited with the opportunity to host the Kickoff Classic.
East Liverpool will be a tough road test," Connor said. "Then we get into the Buckeye 8 which is always challenging. It is a great conference which has yielded many great rivalries. Every week is a battle."
Connor has put together a quality and veteran staff. In addition to Grinch and Hammack, the Redskin varsity aides are Doug Karas, Mike Voltz, Bruce Barrett, Justin Wilson, David Connor and Todd Mazzaferro. The frosh coaches are Rob Lucas and Keith Duncan.
Joe Dunlevy, Gary Bracone, Mike Wilson and Steve Fletcher guide the junior high.
Nathan Beatty, Austin Bianchini, Paul Eakle, Corey Goodrich, Johnny Haught, Tran Huynh, Tyler Lathem, Blake Roar, Tyler West, Zach Williams, Jonathan Woodbury, Mark Wojciechowski
Greg Burrow, Luke Carroll, Zach Connor, Zac Crawford, Justin Gibson, Justin Cummings, Nick Fortunato, Christian Getsy, Jacob Holloway, Anthony Krager, Donnie Merritt, Chris Plotts, Michael Puorro, Corey Springer, Sean Tipton
Jonathan Dailey, Zach Cole, Eddie Homol, Scott Kosek, Chris Mazar, Tristan McDonald, Brandon Neville, Tyreece Papola, Isiah Pavlic, Cody Sinsel, Jacob Wigal, Zach Williams
Michael Butler, Robert Coppa, Austin Freshwater, Trey Harton, Miles Mazik, Shane Powers, Sam Robinson, Dylan Simmons, Nathan Thomas, Bryce Throckmorton, Austin Vandeborne, Greg Wade, Jacob Wounaris, Ryan Zrinyi