Davidson Day coach Chad Grier says Chase Monroe “was born to play linebacker,” and with good reason.
Monroe has been playing the position, one way or another, since before he was old enough to put on a pair of shoulder pads.
Monroe leads a defense that will be key in the Patriots’ bid for their second straight N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association championship and fifth in the past six years.
“He’s just a big kid,” Grier said. “But you step between the lines, you don’t want to be wearing another color jersey. You want that kid on your side. He just loves to play the game.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Now a solid 6-foot- 2 and 230 pounds, Monroe – who has committed to Wake Forest – is one of six Division I college prospects from the Class of 2017 on Davidson Day’s defense.
Defensive lineman Garrett Groulx (6-2, 245) has committed to James Madison. Linebacker Tommy Lawley (6-2, 220) is being recruited by Appalachian State, Army, Elon, James Madison, Navy and Virginia Tech; linebacker Ryan Titus (6-2, 225) by Charlotte, Charleston Southern and James Madison; defensive lineman Garvin Stewart (6-1, 230) by Cornell, and defensive end Jack Carter (6-5, 250) by Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia Tech as an offensive lineman.
“That’s almost unheard of at the high school level,” Grier said.
A lot of the credit for Monroe’s development goes to his father, Matt Monroe, who was a linebacker at Southern Miss in the early 1990s.
The elder Monroe started schooling his son in the game at an early age, starting with video games at age 3.
“We grew up playing Madden together,” Monroe said. “Of course, I had no idea what I was doing, because I was 3 years old. But there’s pictures of us, just me and him going at it.
“Seeing pictures of him playing at Southern Miss, wearing the black and gold, made me want to play. So when I was 7 years old, I strapped on the pads and went to work.”
The hard work over the years – especially with his father and former pro linebacker Antico Dalton, both assistant coaches at Davidson Day – has paid off.
The younger Monroe had led the Patriots in tackles the past two years – 161 in 2014, 129 last season – and his 95 tackles as a freshman were second-best to Matt Stevens (now at N.C. State).
“I think, from the day he learned to walk, he probably was getting in the stance and ready to get downhill and attack somebody,” Grier said. “He’s got all the mental and physical attributes that any coach really wants from an inside linebacker, especially in today’s game. He can play today’s game with a throwback mentality – ‘Once I step between the lines, buddy, it’s on.’”
The pressure will be on Davidson Day’s defense even more this season, with quarterback Sam Hartman (who threw for 2,655 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2015) out indefinitely after off-season surgery. Hartman has not been cleared to practice or play.
“We really expected it to be on the defense this year,” Monroe said. “We’re going to work. We know – especially these first couple games – are going to come on us. We may win by 50 (points), we may win by 14, but our defense is going to be unstoppable.”
Observer Sweet 16: Davidson Day
The Observer continues with previews of teams in its annual preseason Sweet 16 high school football preseason poll. The teams will be revealed in alphabetical order. The poll, with numerical order, will be released following the previews.
Head coach: Chad Grier (6th season at Davidson Day; 57-6 overall).
2015 record: 12-0 (NCISAA Division III state champion).
Key returning starters: Chase Monroe, Sr., LB (6-2, 230); Garrett Groulx, Sr., OL/DE (6-2, 245); Sam Hartman, Jr., QB (6-1, 175); Ryan Titus, Sr., OL/LB (6-2, 225); Tommy Lawley, Sr., TE/LB (6-2, 220); Jack Carter, Jr., OL/DL (6-5, 250); Nolan Groulx, So., WR/DB (5-11, 180).
Key newcomers: Bryan Rogers, Jr., OL (6-5, 300); Connor Beasley, Jr. OL/DL (6-2, 250); Aedon Johnson, Sr., WR/DB (5-11, 175); Keygan Mayfield, Jr., WR/DB (5-9, 165).
Returning starters: 11.
Returning lettermen: 26.
Outlook: The Patriots made a big statement in beating Charlotte Latin 31-13 to win their first NCISAA title at the Division I level. With junior quarterback Sam Hartman returning to lead the offense and senior linebacker Chase Monroe spearheading the defense, Davidson Day should again be a contender to win it all.