LITHIA — Bruce Anderson was introduced to Florida’s ultra-competitive high school football culture last year after moving state from Northern California.
“Down here, it’s more competition, faster guys and it’s more competitive,” Anderson said.
In his first year at Newsome, Anderson made an immediate impact, rushing for 358 yards and two touchdowns, catching two passes for 50 yards and a touchdown, and accumulating 257 yards as a kick returner.
That’s just on offense.
On defense, Anderson’s 75 tackles were second on the team. He added an interception, six pass deflections, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.
His skill set has caught the attention of several programs, including Fordham, North Dakota and Kent State.
“I see myself as a running back and playing defense,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the move to Florida has dramatically improved his level of play, and this past summer, he was a standout player on Tampa’s Unsigned Preps 7-on-7 team, which finished as the runner-up at a national tournament in Bradenton.
“It helped me a lot in gaining knowledge of the game,” Anderson said.
Anderson was limited last season with a minor hamstring injury.
Staying healthy, he said, is vital if he plans to contribute.
“I feel like I have to be more of a leader to fill the voids on our team,” he said.
Newsome has always had a dominant running program, and returning seniors Chris Bryant and Bruce Anderson will share snaps in the backfield. Bryant led the way last season with 750 yards and six touchdowns, while Anderson had 358 yards and two touchdowns despite being limited with a hamstring injury. Senior Spencer Preston was the starting quarterback until he was sidelined with an injury, forcing then-sophomore Cole Schaller to step in. Expect both to have a role this season.
Kicker Austin Cobb was a significant weapon last season, making more than 70 percent of his point-after kicks and field goals to lead the team in points.
“He puts it in the end zone so the (opposing team) has to drive 80 yards, Newsome coach Ken Hiscock said. “It takes away the big play.”
Seniors Makhana Suber and Brett Lindbeck return at linebacker, while Anderson and Bryant will also play prominent roles in the secondary. Running the ball against Newsome will be a task for opposing teams this year, with senior Ranger Roberts, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive tackle, plugging holes along with Vince and Nick Raffaele.
Newsome appeared to be on the way to making the playoffs last season, but multiple injuries plagued the Wolves midway through the year, resulting in a few personnel changes. Staying healthy will be Newsome’s biggest priority in 2014.
“We just didn’t have guys in spots to win those tight games,” Hiscock said.
♦ About The Wolves
Stadium: Newsome Stadium, 16550 Fishhawk Blvd., Lithia
Class-District: 8A-6 (with Alonso, Bloomingdale, Plant, Riverview and Wharton)
Coach: Ken Hiscock (54-32, ninth season)
Last season: 5-5
Aug. 29: Tampa Bay Tech
Sept. 5: Gaither
Sept. 12: at Sickles
Sept. 19: Alonso
Sept. 26: at Jesuit
Oct. 2: at Wharton
Oct. 10: at Durant
Oct. 17: Plant
Oct. 24: Bloomingdale
Oct. 31: at Riverview