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Inside the Headset with the AFCA

Apr 7, 2022

This week on Inside the Headset, we are featuring Ferris State’s Head Coach, Tony Annese. In this episode, Coach Annese reflects on last year’s Division II National Championship run, details where his passion for teaching and leading young men came from, and highlights the importance of sharping your personal skillset.

Tony Annese is entering his tenth season as the Head Coach for the Ferris State Bulldogs. During the 2021 season, Annese lead his team to their first national championship title in school history and ended the season with a perfect 14-0 record. During his tenure with the Bulldogs, Coach Annese has built one of the top programs at the Division II level. Since 2014, the bulldogs have won five Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and have qualified for the NCAA Dividion II playoffs seven times. A proven winner at all of his previous coaching stops and highly-regarded across the country, Annese took over the Bulldog program following three impressive years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), which came on the heels of a highly successful 25-season stint at the prep level. While at GRCC, Annese was tabbed as the NJCAA Regional Coach of the Year all three seasons and led the Raiders to a three-year mark of 30-4 overall while winning two NJCAA Division II championships. The program finished among the nation's top 10 teams three-straight seasons and he coordinated all aspects of the program such as recruiting, player development, academic support and more.

Prior to taking over at GRCC, Annese established himself as one of the state's premier coaches and a football mastermind in four stops at the prep level. He posted a mark of 195-41 in 22 seasons as a prep head coach at Montrose, Ann Arbor Pioneer, Jenison and Muskegon High Schools while making 15 playoff appearances and five trips to the state semifinals, including three state championships. In Annese's last stop as a prep head coach at Muskegon High School, he led the Big Reds to a 92-15 (.860) record in nine seasons and claimed three Division II state titles over his last five seasons in 2004, 2006 and 2008. All three teams finished unbeaten at 14-0 overall with his final team in '08 ranked fourth in the country. He was a National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year finalist in 2009 and was tabbed as the MHSFCA Coach of the Year in 2004, 2006 and 2008.

  • [0:27] Start of interview
  • [0:48] Last season’s national championship run
  • [3:51] Sustaining success over time
  • [7:06] Connecting with players on a personal level
  • [10:35] Passion for teaching
  • [14:10] Coaching with family members
  • [16:32] Sharping your personal skillset