Spiders look to grow up soon

Returning only four of its 22 starters, Concord coach Glen Padgett has a lot of work ahead of him.

Coming off a 9-5 season, during which the Spiders finished second in the South Piedmont Conference and reached the third round of the 3A playoffs, Padgett said his team is in the middle of a rebuilding process.

"We have a lot to do," he said. "Our job right now is to simply get better each day."

Padgett and his coaching staff had to make tweaks to their playbook to accommodate their personnel.

Quarterback B.J. Beecher, who returns after throwing for more than 2,600 yard and 33 touchdowns last year, will be a good building block for the Spiders.

Padgett said the 6-foot-6-inch junior has improved in the offseason, but he also realizes Beecher will undergo an adjustment without any of his receivers back from last season.

Tight end Terrance Knox, who recently committed to North Carolina, also returns to lead the Concord offense. He should be a big help for Beecher.

"He's an excellent receiver out of the backfield, he's an excellent receiver at tight end, he's always a red zone threat," said Padgett, adding the senior has focused on improving his blocking to get ready for the collegiate level.

"He's doing everything we need him to do to be an excellent leader on this team."

Aside from Knox, all of this year's Spider receivers had only one varsity reception last year.

"They're young and that's why I keep telling people that we're a work in progress," he said. "We'll try to get better incrementally."

Padgett said he's been impressed by senior running back Denzel Phillips, who he said had a good offseason. The coach said the Spider offensive line has a lot of upside and could be good down the road.

"But right now they don't have any experience together at the varsity level," said Padgett.

On the defensive side, senior Hunter White and junior Jerrick Grier are the lone returning starters back.

Padgett explained his defense will be undersized, but they will compensate with its speed up front.

Senior nose tackle De'Andre Gilliard should lead the defensive line with his physical approach to the game, while senior Desmond Shamsid-Dean and Logan Sedergren, who started a few games as a freshman last year, will help in the secondary.

Padgett said his team's linebacker corps will be inexperienced and he's still moving players around to fill those roles.

Concord also returns senior kicker Robert Salsish, a two-year starter.

Padgett isn't worried about setting goals for his team right now, instead focusing on getting his team ready for their opener against West Charlotte.

"We're still searching for an identity," said Padgett. "It should make for a challenge early in the year, but that's why we play our tough nonconference slate."

He said he hopes his players will step up to the challenge.

"Last year some were role players or backups, so this is their opportunity to shine," said Padgett.

"When you graduate so many starters, somebody's going to have to step up and take their place."