Davidson Day football headed to national 7-on-7 event
by Staff Writer
DAVIDSON – Seven-on-seven tournaments have become a high school football staple in the summer. Davidson Day has excelled in the format and is drawing national attention.
The Patriots won the Carolina Panthers’ 7-on-7 tournament at the team’s Charlotte practice facility last month and will represent the Panthers at the NFL’s national 7-on-7 event July 12-15 in Indianapolis, Ind.
Each NFL team sends a high-school representative to the event.
Players don’t wear pads during 7-on-7, and there are no linemen, blocking or tackling. The format is geared toward refining passing, receiving and pass coverage.
The benefits, Davidson Day coach Chad Grier said, are numerous.
“Our guys are getting quality reps (repetitions),” Grier said. “We’re recognizing backs coming out of the backfield, getting the proper coverage and changing coverages. On offense we’re so much about timing and rhythm, it’s the same thing – guys getting to the right spots at the right times. We get a lot out of playing 7-on-7.”
Davidson Day, a 1A private school, earned the trip to Indianapolis by beating 4A powerhouse Mallard Creek 28-24 on the final play of the Panthers’ tournament. Mike Stevens caught a touchdown pass from Will Grier in the corner of the end zone.
“People doubt us a lot, but I think this shows we can play,” Will Grier said.
The Patriots’ trip to Indianapolis, in addition to plenty of football, will include character development seminars, guest speakers, tours of the NCAA Hall of Champions and Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts) and an awards banquet.
It’s quite a reward for a team that two years ago trotted out its first 7-on-7 team in makeshift fashion.
“We were scrambling that night, drawing a bunch of formations and plays on index files that we could hold up (on the sideline),” Grier said. “We were literally grabbing a kid and setting him up on the line.”
The Patriots, who won a state championship in their debut varsity season last fall, are a polished bunch these days. In a road victory against Mount Pleasant on June 28, Grier didn’t take a play sheet to use. He signaled the plays from the sideline and didn’t go into the huddle (which is allowed in 7-on-7).
The format is a perfect off-season tonic for teams such as Davidson Day, which has an advanced passing attack. Last season, Will Grier threw for 49 touchdowns (the most in North Carolina) and 3,785 yards in 12 games. The Patriots are loaded with talented receivers, and they’ve all returned from the state championship team.
“The demeanor of this group is they’re very confident and very poised,” Chad Grier said. “They go about their business and do their thing.”
Davidson Day’s resolve was tested in the 7-on-7 in Charlotte. It went 2-2 in pool play games and, as Grier said, longed for a chance to redeem a loss to Mallard Creek in the first game. The Patriots advanced to the playoffs, where they beat Northern Guilford, Orangeburg-Wilkinson (S.C.) and Mallard Creek.
Despite not playing, Davidson Day’s linemen aren’t forgotten. Several attend the 7-on-7s to support their teammates, and they’re busy plowing through summer drills under defensive coordinator Dave Serepca and line coaches Chad Illing and Jason Heller.
“We talk about a football family here,” Grier said. “Anything we’re doing that’s football is for all of us.”