I was driving back from the beach with my son and his buddy, both fledgling high school athletes. They pay more attention to prep sports these days because it’s their new demographic.
Idle chatter soon turned into questions. Dad, who was the best soccer player you ever covered? Football player? Basketball, etc.? What made them so good? Where’d they go to college? They reach the pros?
The football chat was mostly about quarterbacks Will Grier (Davidson Day) and Chris Leak (Independence High). I realized my son could launch Internet searches to learn about Leak’s exploits a decade or so ago. Grier’s accomplishments are happening now, but it triggered another thought.
Years from now, when someone checks a national or state record book for Grier’s passing records, they won’t find any officially listed.
Why? Because Davidson Day isn’t a member of the N.C. High School Athletic Association. The NCHSAA has a record book, but it only includes member schools. Grier’s school competes in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association, a private-school organization that doesn’t compile individual football records.
The NCHSAA records are reported to the National Federation of State High School Associations, which compiles a national record book. Grier, despite piling up the most prolific career by any North Carolina quarterback, won’t be listed anywhere.
I count 10 state records that Grier owns unofficially (see chart on this page). He’s been flooded with honors throughout his prep career, but something isn’t right when there’s no lasting image outside of those close to Davidson Day’s program.
The good news: It doesn’t bother Grier at all. The three football season’s I’ve talked to him, he’s never mentioned statistics or records.
“The only number that matters to me is 2¾,” he said, a few days before Davidson Day would turn that number into “3” straight state championships.
A few minutes after the Patriots blitzed Harrells Christian 69-28 in the title game, an unknowing TV reporter asked Grier, “Do you know how many touchdown passes you have this season?”
He smiled into the camera.
“No, I don’t.”
That number is 77, which would shatter the mark of 69 Grier set a year ago. The NCHSAA record book lists 64 as the official record. There are plenty of other numbers that Grier has bettered, but you’d never know it.
The NCISAA lacks manpower needed to compile a record book. But it sounds like it may happen eventually.
“The NCISAA is a developing athletic association which is distinct from our public school counterpart,” said Chuck Carter, the NCISAA executive director. “We have about 85 member schools and sponsor some 56 state tournaments.
“We do not have records in any team sports, but do keep records for track swimming, and cross country. We have begun an archives program which I view as a precursor for establishing team sport records. The NCISAA has had a full-time staff of three for about 10 years, which has limited keeping records. Given time, we will get to that point.”
I understand the NCISAA’s limitations and the NCHSAA’s loyalty to its member schools. But I think about other N.C. athletes who won’t be found in any of the records, including locals that advanced to sparkling college and professional careers like Stephen Curry and Daniel Bard (Charlotte Christian) and Chris Canty (Charlotte Latin).
Grier doesn’t dwell in his statistics, as gaudy as his numbers were. Nor did his coach (and father) Chad Grier. Nor did anyone associated with the Patriots program. It always was about the team winning. If Will Grier threw seven or eight touchdowns in the process, well, that’s using your assets wisely.
There will always be detractors. They surfaced when Leak dominated N.C. football in the early 2000s. He passed every down. His coach was trying to set records. His dad influenced the coach. False. False. And false.
Ditto for Grier. He played a private-school schedule (not entirely). His dad was coach (anyone’s dad would’ve played Grier at quarterback). He’ll never make it in college (that’s irrelevant to his high school accomplishments).
“(Records) aren’t one of the things we ever talked about,” Chad Grier said. “The record that matters is how many games we won. We don’t need (records) to validate what we’ve done. Our program isn’t one player or one team during one season. What we’re trying to accomplish is bigger than football and bigger than stats.”