Western Albemarle has a new coach and, they hope, a new defensive attitude.
Ed Redmond brings over 20 years of head coaching experience at the high school and college level to Crozet. He inherits a Western team that won its final four games of the 2011 season to make the playoffs for the third straight year.
Redmond said he's still getting acclimated to his new players, and vice versa.
"When they get used to me," Redmond said. "I think that's the biggest thing. If they get used to me. And you have to develop a trust between player and coach, and then you have to develop a trust between players and then once you start getting that going then you start to see your program take off."
At least one returning Western senior is excited with what he's seen of Redmond.
"Well I personally love his style of coaching. I think it will be a really good change for our team and maybe it will let us win some playoff games and get us further into the postseason," All-Jefferson District defensive back Daniel Kuzjak said.
The Warriors will have to replace All-Jefferson Defensive Player of the Year and first-team Wide Receiver Austin Ellis, who had 936 yards receiving and seven touchdowns.
One player expected to step into that void will be junior Nick Drapanas, who earned first-team JD cornerback and second-team wide receiver honors last season.
"I've been impressed with Nicholas. Runs well, catches well," Redmond said.
"Now that I'm a Junior I'm filling more of a leader role and I'm feeling really excited about getting out there," Drapanas added.
Junior signal-caller Kent Henry also returns. He threw for 1,863 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2011 and added 960 yards and ten TDs on the ground.
Kuzjak joins Drapanas for a formidable secondary and also gives Western a solid pair of receivers. Kuzjak had over 400 yards receiving and five scores last season but it's the defense he expects to improve this season.
"Yeah we have a really good secondary and we have guys who can step into the middle too where Austin left and I think we'll be good on defense," he said.
Redmond calls himself a defensive-minded coach and is trying to mold Western, long an offensive-oriented team, into a tougher, intimidating defense. The Warriors averaged almost 30 points-per-game but also surrendered almost 23 per-week.
"Some of the challenges we have here as coaches is to create a defensive mentality and to try to create a toughness," he explained.
The Warriors are buying into Redmond's vision and Drapanas knows just how to describe the 2012 Western Albemarle squad.
"I have to say one word: defensive. Definitely. Because (Redmond's) really pushing that."
Western opens the season by hosting Albemarle on August 24th at 7:30 p.m.