By DErEk Smi Th
Day School senior quarterback Will Grier made news outside
the state of North Carolina when he threw for a
national-record 837 yards and 10 touchdowns
in a 104-80 state playoff win last November.
While few fans knew of the dual-threat signal-caller from the northern Mecklenburg County
private school before his record-setting performance, he had been on the Division I recruiting
radar since his sophomore season in 2011 when
he threw for 3,785 yards and 49 touchdowns
and rushed for 925 yards and 11 TDs.
After completing 324 of 414 passes for
5,785 yards and 69 touchdowns and running
for 813 yards and eight scores last year, the
6-foot- 3, 185-pounder was named North Caro-
lina’s Gatorade Player of the Year and verbally
committed to Florida over North Carolina, Ten-
nessee, N.C. State and oregon.
He decided to get his college decision out of
the way early so he could focus on his school
work and improving his game for the challenges
of the SEC.
Grier has been groomed to play quarterback
on the college level by his father and Davidson
Day coach, Chad Grier, who played the position
at East Carolina and was coached by Georgia’s
Mark Richt, then an assistant for the Pirates.
So what does 2013 have in store for Grier?
Will there be more passing records? Hard to say,
but he and his teammates will be trying to win
a third consecutive NCISAA state championship.
North gastoN high sChool
“Tough TiMes neveR s TaY aRounD, Bu T
tough men do,” said North Gaston’s James
Passmore. He should know.
The 6-foot- 6, 275-pound senior offensive lineman unknowingly broke his wrist in the eighth
grade while horsing around with his cousin. He
knew it was hurt but thought it was just a sprain
and that it would get better over time.
Passmore played football, wrestled and was
on the track team (discus and shot put) for the
Wildcats as a freshman and sophomore with a
wrist that never healed properly. Incredibly, he
won the heavyweight state championship in
wrestling as a sophomore before finally having
surgery in April of 2012.
Doctors in Charlotte performed a bone graft
Blair and Justin hardin
freeDoM aND ProViDeNCe
The sons oF LegenDaRY high schooL
football coach Bruce Hardin are on the move.
Blair Hardin, who took Porter Ridge to back-
to-back 4A state championships in 2011 and
2012, has left the union County high school
for Freedom in Morganton. He replaces Mike
Helms, who resigned after four seasons with a
record of 37-14.
At Porter Ridge, Hardin’s teams went 50-18
in five seasons with four playoff appearances.
Blair played football for his father at A.L.
Brown in Kannapolis and was defensive coor-
dinator at Ardrey Kell and Providence before
arriving at Porter Ridge.
Meanwhile, Justin Hardin is the new head
coach at Providence in Charlotte, taking over
for Randy Long ( 58-50, nine years). He spent
the last two seasons at South Pointe in Rock
and inserted a screw that allowed Passmore to
play football last fall following the second game
of the season.
“I had to get used to it,” he said of the play-
ing with a cast and brace. “It didn’t hurt as bad
after the surgery. I could tell it was healing.”
He wrestled again over the winter and finished
fourth in the state, and was named All-Gaston
County for shot put in the spring. As Passmore
approaches his senior season at North Gaston,
he’s preparing himself for the opportunity to
play college football by getting stronger and
working on pass blocking. East Carolina and
Charlotte have offered scholarships and North
Carolina and N.C. State are showing interest.
“I feel like I can play college football,” said
Passmore, a 2012 All-Big South Conference
selection and All-Gaston Gazette first-teamer.
Hill, S.C., where he helped lead the team to a
state championship in 2011 and a regional
title in 2012.
Prior to that, Justin Hardin inherited a winless
squad at Weddington and went 14-11 in two
seasons as head coach, including a school record
nine wins in 2010. Justin also played for his father
at A.L. Brown and collegiately at The Citadel.
Ironically, Hardin’s father coached at Provi-
dence from 2001-2004, compiling a record
of 29-11 with three consecutive playoff
Patriarch Bruce Hardin, a 300-plus game
winner, enters his 47th season on the sidelines.
He’s coached at olympic, Harding, West Char-
lotte, A.L. Brown, Providence, Marvin Ridge and
Providence Day, and has won three state titles.
Hardin was also a college assistant at The Cita-
del and Army.
The Hardins are truly the first family of high
school football coaches in the Charlotte area.