The Providence Day coaches have a theory: Charlotte Christian won the state championship in 2008, Charlotte Latin won it in 2009 and Charlotte Country Day won it last year. Now it's the Chargers' turn.
After having one of its best seasons in recent history, going 8-3 and losing in the state semifinals to Charlotte Latin 40-14, Providence Day hopes to ride the momentum of last season to the state championship game.
"We look at it as just a little unfinished business," said fourth-year coach Bruce Hardin. "I think we've created a culture that we know how to dig our heels in and battle with people, and that's what we want to do."
The offense returns just three starters: all-state senior center Sam Frye (5-foot-9, 260), junior guard Devin Redmond (5-foot-11, 200) and junior receiver Ben Bjork (6-foot-3, 180).
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At quarterback for the Chargers will be junior Chase Ferguson, who started his first two years at South Mecklenburg before transferring to Providence Day this year. Ferguson, son of former Independence and Florida State quarterback Chip Ferguson, played at Providence Day through eighth grade and will replace Price Litton, who now is at Towson University.
"I think he's got a really nice touch on the ball," said Hardin. "I like the way he releases the ball really quick. Very few times have we been able to sack him."
In addition to Bjork, Ferguson will be throwing to juniors Bryon Fields (5-foot-11, 160) and Jonathan Henry (5-foot-10, 160).
To replace Josh Covington, who had a county-high 378 yards in one game last year, Hardin is looking to junior running backs Gunner Guelli (5-foot-9, 150) and Braxton Mosack (5-foot-9, 155).
Hardin said he was pleased with how the two backs played at a recent scrimmage in Columbia.
"We had some good long runs," he said. "I think in that scrimmage they built some confidence."
The defense features senior returning starter Nick Velardo (6-foot-2, 210) and sophomore Mitch Renfrow (6-foot, 180) on the defensive line. Junior Daniel Stack returns at linebacker, with junior South Meck transfer John Carrick and junior Country Day transfer Robbie Rucho. Senior Haamid Williams is a returning starter at cornerback, and junior Grant McGarity returns at safety. Hardin said he also has been pleased with junior James Yeldell, who can play defensive end, linebacker and safety.
With many new players and no superstars, the Chargers must play together and limit mistakes, said Hardin.