There are not many players who would admit they were looking forward to following two-time N.C. Gatorade football player of the year Will Grier, who threw for 14,559 yards and 195 touchdowns over the past three seasons while leading his Davidson Day team to 34 wins and three straight state championships before going on to play at Florida.
But Anthony DiGioia (pronounced Duh-JOY-ya) is that kind of player.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Davidson Day rising senior quarterback, who spent his spent his first three high schools seasons as a backup at Hough High to Josh Stilley, is ready for his opportunity to finally be the starting quarterback. He relishes the chance to take over a Patriot offense that has been able to put up video game-like numbers under head coach Chad Grier, Will’s father.
“I’m kind of used pressure, because I’ve grown up as a coach’s son in basketball and football,” said DiGioia, talking about his father, David. “Any time you get an opportunity that gives you a chance to make a name for yourself, it’s a great thing. I know following ... (Will Grier) is going to be tough, but I don’t focusing on replacing Will Grier. I focus on showing what I can do for this team on the field. This offense is totally set up for the quarterback to make plays.”
Chad Grier loves his new quarterback’s mentality.
“Look, everybody knows that Will is a pretty good player,” Chad Grier said. “But this (Davidson Day team) isn’t about Will, it’s about Anthony now. He has had a great summer and I think he’s going to show he is a pretty darn good player himself.”
DiGioia, 17, got off to a slow start this summer in the first drive of his first 7-on-7 game against Newton-Conover, and coach Grier let him have it when he came to the sideline.
The very next series, DiGioia responded by throwing a touchdown pass and has never looked back. DiGioia guided his team to a 22-4 record this summer in four 7-on-7 events, including the Palmetto State 7-on-7 Showdown at Duncan Byrnes (S.C.), where they finished as runner-up to Byrnes in a loaded field.
DiGioia passed for 49 touchdowns in the 14 games at the Byrnes tournament.
“I told Anthony that I was going to ride him all summer as hard as I could and do everything I can to make him a better player,” Grier said. “Ever since the second (drive) at Newton-Conover, the kid has played great football. Our offense really hasn’t missed a beat.”
DiGioia already feels like a different player.
“I’ve gained so much confidence this summer,” said DiGioia, who has a 4.1 GPA and runs his own lawn service. “Once I got past that first drive I just settled right in. Playing in this offense is a blast.”
DiGioia will have playmakers all over the field, from senior running back Cullen McGahan, to senior wideouts Glen Coates (56 catches for 1009 yards and seven touchdowns) and Jacob Robinson (43 catches and seven touchdowns).Grier said the team has “the best chemistry he’s seen at Davidson Day.”
“It’s awesome that all of us are playing with something to prove,” said DiGioia. “We’ve been working our butts off to make sure we are ready. We know the precedent that has been set for winning state championships. That is the expectation and that is where we expect to be.”
DiGioia says that Chad Grier, a former Charlotte Latin standout and college quarterback at East Carolina, is a great teacher of the position. Also, Will Grier has come home from Florida and worked with DiGioia on the finer points of the offense.
The new Davidson Day quarterback is ready to go.
“I can’t wait to get on the field on Friday nights,” DiGioia said. “We’ve put a lot of work in and we are ready to show what we can do.”