CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Perhaps no high school football player in the state made a splash in his varsity debut the way Kentre Grier did last year.
Then a freshman, Grier hardly took the field until South Charleston's fifth game, when he subbed during the second half with the Black Eagles trailing Capital 17-0 at Laidley Field.
What he did after that was nothing short of heroic, completing 7 of 11 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns, hitting Marquel Hampton on a 36-yard scoring toss with 1:07 to play, giving SC a 20-17 comeback victory.
He remained the starter after that and, despite playing just 51/2 games, threw for 1,549 yards and 17 TDs against one interception.
Grier's presence under center is one of the big reasons the Black Eagles are expected to challenge for a Class AAA playoff berth after missing out the last two seasons.
In SC's first scrimmage against Woodrow Wilson last week, Grier completed 12 of 15 passes for 228 yards and three TDs with no interceptions. In the Black Eagles' scrimmage against Cabell Midland at Laidley Field, Grier hit on 14 of 19 attempts for 296 yards and three scores with no picks.
"You have to give credit to his dad for a lot of that stuff,'' said Donnie Mays, SC's first-year coach. Grier's father, Ken Grier, started at West Virginia State in 1990-91.
"He was a heck of a quarterback,'' Mays said of Ken Grier, "so having a quarterback as a father helps. On top of that, we try to make our system as simple as possible. When you're a quarterback, it's a simple progression. He knows where to get his eyes. Don't let the defender play you - you play the defender. Force them one way [with your eyes] and throw the other way. He does a real nice job with it.
"He got thrown into the fire last year, and I didn't get the time to work with him like I wish I'd had. But I'm sure happy the way it turned out.''
Something for Black Eagles fans to look forward to this season is the combination of Grier with junior A.D. Cunningham, SC's top running back who played in just five games last year.
In fact, Cunningham suffered a shoulder injury in the first half of the game at Capital and wasn't around when Grier rallied the Black Eagles to the win. Cunningham didn't play again in 2012, so he and Grier never took the field together.
"It's an exciting thing for us,'' Mays said, "the first time they're in the backfield together. We were hoping they'd get there last year.
"It's exciting to see those two play together, and one truly complements the other. A.D. sets up the run game, and when people have to focus on A.D., Kentre can throw, and vice-versa. If they try to outnumber us on the pass, we have A.D. to run the ball.''
The General idea
Winfield has been a Class AAA school since 2008, but hasn't posted a winning season or captured a playoff berth since that time. The best the Generals have gone is 4-6, which is what they were last year.
They're no longer satisfied just to be considered a possible playoff contender. They want to break down the door to the postseason.
"Our seniors set a goal,'' said coach Craig Snyder. "They want to make the playoffs. We want to be the first Winfield team to be a triple-A playoff team.