Sweet repeat: Davidson Day wins second championship
by Staff Writer
DAVIDSON – Davidson Day continues to not act like a young football program, and has the trophies to prove it.
The Patriots beat Arden Christ School 54-38 in the N.C Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II championship game Nov. 16 to earn their second state championship in two seasons since they established a varsity team.
The Patriots (11-2) scored early and often in the chilly mountain air, much as they did all season.
Davidson Day’s Will Grier was 24-of-33 passing for 491 yards and five touchdown passes. He also ran for a score. Grier’s touchdown passes went to Aaron Seward (67 and 30 yards), Jordan Brown (35 and 70 yards) and Evan Gates (30 yards).
Brown and Gates also each had a touchdown run.
“We put it together,” said Grier, who began the game as the nation’s leader in passing yards and touchdowns. “Our mission from the beginning was to do whatever it took to win the championship. Stats don’t matter. This was a team effort. I couldn’t be prouder of my teammates. Two (championships) in two years is amazing.”
Davidson Day won the NCISAA’s Division III title last year, and moved up to Division II this season. Christ School, playing in its first title game, had its’ 12-game winning streak snap by losing for the first time this season.
Davidson Day held a slim 21-17 lead at halftime. On the first possession of the third quarter, the Patriots drove 62 yards in 10 plays, and took a 28-17 lead on Grier’s 2-yard touchdown sweep. Five minutes later, Davidson Day took command. The Patriots, facing a third-and-30, silenced the home crowd when Grier rolled right and passed to a streaking Seward over the middle for a 67-yard touchdown pass. Glen Coates’ downfield block cleared a path for Seward and gave Davidson Day a 34-17 lead.
“I knew we needed a big play and normally coach (Chad Grier) calls on me,” Seward said. “I knew I had to make a play. When I caught the ball, I got my eyes upfield, checked my surroundings and saw Glen was right there. I went around him and got that block. …I think that was a great boost. After that, we kept on hitting and hitting them.”
The puckish Patriots doused coach Chad Grier with a nearly-full water cooler with about a minute left on the clock. All he could do was shiver, smile and hug the perpetrators.
Davidson Day piled up points and set offensive records despite a rash of injuries, which is never easy on a small roster (34 players).
“If you told me in the beginning of the year we’d have to play in the state championship without Lamar Briggs, Nick Lamach and Jake Helms, I’d have said we were going to have a tough time,” Chad Grier said. “We didn’t have (Evan) Gates for a couple of games. Those are some really meaningful players who give us valuable minutes. I’m just so proud of how our kids played and competed. We talk all the time about the will to win … and the will to prepare to win.”
Grier and his coaching staff had to dip into younger, inexperienced reserves in midseason. They responded beautifully. Two freshman and six sophomores were starters on defense. Three freshmen started on the offensive line. Two others – Josh Barclay and Adam Sapp – were first-year seniors who ended up starting.
“Those kids worked their butts off, competed and brought so much to our program,” Chad Grier said.
The centerpiece of the title team was Will Grier, who set state records for passing yards in a season (5,785) and touchdown passes (69). He completed 324 of 414 passes (78 percent) percent, and threw 11 two-point conversions. Grier also led the Patriots in rushing (813 yards) and scored eight touchdowns.
Bad news for opponents: He’s only a junior.
Grier had a sparkling group of receivers at which to aim. Seward caught 67 passes for 1,844 yards and 26 touchdowns. Brown had 62 receptions for 1,150 yards and 16 touchdowns, and averaged more than 10 yards per carry as a running back (589 yards on 51 attempts). In the state final, Brown caught 10 passes for 224 yards and ran six times for 74 yards.
Jordan Young was the third receiver to crack the 1,000-yard mark, with 65 catches for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns.
Davidson Day topped 50 points seven times, culminating with a 104-80 victory against Harrells Christian in the semifinal. Grier set national records for passing yards (837) and touchdowns (10) in a game.
During the celebration after the championship, the staggering stats didn’t matter to Grier or any of his teammates. They hugged and danced with the trophy. Another layer of winning was established at what remains a new-ish program.
“They’re just so different,” Chad Grier said, referring to the championships. “This group was together longer. Some have played together since they were eight years old.
“Last year was just (senior) Tré (Hunt), but this year there are eight seniors going off to college. This football family is real to us. Last year we felt like it was the start of something big.”