Things couldn't have gotten much worse for first-year coach Glen Padgett and his Concord football team.
Starting 0-6 in his first six games last year, Concord was down 27-6 midway through the second quarter against winless Central Cabarrus on the road.
But instead of packing it in, the Spiders seemed to turn it on from that point on for the rest of the season. Concord not only beat the Vikings, scoring 41 unanswered points to win 47-27, but also discovered a star in freshman quarterback B.J. Beecher.
Beecher, the younger brother of former Concord star Tommy Beecher, and the Spiders won their last five regular-season games, including a season-ending win over archrival A.L. Brown. The Spiders also beat Northwest Cabarrus in the first round of the 3A state playoffs, before finally falling to Hibriten in the second round.
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"A lot of teams in the same situation would have quit and said, 'We aren't any good, why should we even try,'" Padgett said. "But our kids responded and fought through everything and turned things around. Now, our challenge is, 'Can we remember how hard we had to work to get to that point.'"
That challenge is what faces Concord headed into the 2010 season as the Spiders return most of their top players on offense.
The offense will be led by Beecher, who threw for 1,086 yards and eight touchdowns in only six games. This was all in his first year of high school after playing in only five games as a JV quarterback.
"Beecher was a major reason for the success we had last season, and he was a huge spark for us," said Padgett. "But he wasn't the only reason.
Beecher will have plenty of talent around him, including tailback Dominique Posey, who rushed for 792 yards and 13 touchdowns, before tearing his ACL last season. The Spiders will also have help from senior Varen Blake, who had 204 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 2009.
Concord has several top options out wide: Jacquise Moore (32 receptions, eight touchdowns), J.D. Misenheimer (20 catches, five touchdowns) and Elijah Bost (24 catches, one touchdown) all return.
"It took a while for us to put the pieces of the puzzle together," Padgett said.
"But I think we figured it out. This year, we have a chance to be an even better team than we were at the end of last year. But no one is going to give us anything, we will have to go out on the field and prove it."
Concord's defense will probably have a lot to prove and that could be bad for opposing teams.
Five of the Spiders' front seven return, led by senior Darin Posey, who had 97 tackles last year and can be a one-man wrecking crew up front.
Posey will have classmates Bradley Phillips and Wesley Scott alongside him on the defensive line. The tackling machine, linebacker Jalen Brown (88 tackles), and Tevin Barnes will be right behind them.
But while the Spiders have last season fresh on their minds, Padgett knows this will be a whole new team and a whole new year.
"We definitely have a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence coming into this season," said Padgett. "But we still have a lot to prove, and I think everyone is ready to go out and do that."