Chad Grier admits his Davidson Day football program exceeded his wildest expectations last season, as the school's junior varsity program went undefeated in its first year of competition.
"Last June we didn't even own a football at this school, so to have a season like that come together took a huge commitment from the school and from these kids," said the Patriot coach.
In year two of Davidson Day football, the program will undertake its first varsity season. Grier knows that will be a challenge for his young, undersized players.
"We have to be realistic - we're going to be playing with a lot of freshmen this year, a bunch of sophomores and a handful of juniors," he said. "We have talented, hard-working kids, but it's a lot different playing against teams full of juniors and seniors."
But the Patriots, who will count on fewer than 30 players, are not going to back down from any opponent, even as they face some of the state's top private school teams, including perennial powers Charlotte Latin and Harrells Christian.
"Our goals as coaches don't change - and it has nothing to do with wins or losses - it's all about giving great effort and reaching our maximum potential," said Grier.
He admits his players are reaching for the stars by aiming to contend for a state title in the team's first varsity year. Grier said he likes that the Patriots won't settle for mediocrity.
"We dare kids to be great - we dare them to dream and be willing to work hard to achieve their goals," said Grier.
"Somebody's got to win it, so our philosophy is that it might as well be us."
Davidson Day will be led on the offensive end by its quarterback, Will Grier, who showed a lot of potential last season.
The 6-foot-3 sophomore threw for more than 2,000 yards and 28 touchdowns last season for his father's team.
His main target will again be Aaron Seward, a 6-foot-1 junior who caught for more than 800 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Seward will have some help in 6-foot-1 Hopewell transfer Evan Gates, a quick and athletic receiver whom Grier expects will not come off the field much. The junior is also a defensive back.
Junior Vance transfer Kirk Donaldson, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound tight end/linebacker, should also give the team a boost.
All-state sprinter Jordan Brown, who led the Patriots at running back last year averaging 10 yards per carry, could be a difference-maker with his speed.
On the line, 5-foot-10, 299-pounder Ronald Albritton and 5-foot-11, 230 pounder Dallas Lawing will be a force. The freshmen will also lead the defensive line.
Linebacker Lamar Briggs as well as defensive backs Jordan Young and Mark Fields should solidify the Patriot defense.
Regardless of how this year goes, Grier isn't worried about results. He's focused on how it will affect the team in the long term.
"It's all about building a program that our school and our community can be proud of."