One of the fun things about the 7v7 season is the team match-ups. Two teams that meet in the offseason that most likely have not met during football’s regular season. That was the case last night when Thomas Langley’s Metrolina Christian Warriors traveled to Piedmont High School to take on the Panthers and first year-coach John Castator.
These are the new look Panthers: a new head coach that has brought along a new offensive scheme, a spread option attack. I don’t care how prepared one might be to see a new offense because when I saw the Piedmont QB in shotgun formation, I had to adjust my lens. Things are a-changing in Unionville.
Offensively on the evening, Piedmont shared quarterback reps between rising senior Clint Danielson and rising junior, Henry Saunders. Both had their moments, and I would assume this position battle will take another week or two play itself out.
Another bright spot in the new offense is Connor Purser. Okay, I’m not telling you all something you don’t know already. Purser was the workhorse in the Panther backfield last year rushing for 1,228 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns. What I am telling you is that this kid has a pair of hands out of the backfield and looked good receiving and running after the catch. Purser has had five career receptions in two years for Piedmont and no TDs. That’s going to change for sure.
Piedmont’s defense on the evening looked good. They took advantage of mistakes, and when they made mistakes of their own, they responded well to the coaching of first-year defensive coordinator, Nick Vagnone. Significant responsibility for a young coach, running a team’s defense but if you ever saw Nick play linebacker at Porter Ridge, you knew he was destined to be a coach. A vocal leader who led by example, Nick was the Southwestern 4A Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, a four-year letter winner and two-time captain with a never say die attitude.
Metrolina Christian was one bad call away from a state championship win over Country Day last year. The team returns one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the county, Angel Gonzalez. In a year that will see many schools start QBs with little experience, Gonzalez comes into his senior year with impressive numbers accumulated as a sophomore and junior. In two years, Gonzalez has thrown for over 1,700 yards and 23 touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 106.5. He looked good last night, reading through his options and executing with little hesitation.
Defensively, the Warriors covered well, picked at least two interceptions and had a few knockdowns. They have several upperclassmen on the defensive side of the ball and some bright spots from at least two freshmen that I saw play last night.
The video below captures a majority of the plays run during last night’s 7v7.