BRADENTON -- Replacing a quarterback is a difficult task at the high school level, no matter the school size.
But the Bradenton Christian Panthers have what head coach Allan Gerber called "a very gifted athlete."
That athlete is the Panthers new quarterback, rising freshman Joey Giardina.
"He's young and he needs to go through the process," Gerber said. "I feel very comfortable putting him in a situation of turning the keys over to him. But he's young, and it's just a matter of him going through the growing pains like any rookie quarterback will go through. But he's been blessed with talent."
Giardina enters Friday night's spring game against St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep with experience, albeit on the lower level, and success.
Giardina was the quarterback for the Panthers' lower level team, made up of players in Grades 6-9, last season.
The club went 7-0 and scored 220 points in those seven victories.
Giardina isn't just athletic. He's also the president of the National Honor Society, possessing a solid GPA.
That cerebral mind is a bonus at the quarterback position, where playbooks can become a burden to any quarterback, especially a young one.
But Giardina, who was born in New Jersey and grew up in Maine before moving to Florida, has the skill set.
Playing in the BCS system already has enabled Giardina to get acclimated to the varsity squad easier.
"The terminology is all the same, which is why we do what we do," Gerber said. "So that from the time they are in sixth grade all the way to 12th, there's continuity throughout the program. They are accustomed to certain drills, to certain offense, to certain defense. They know what to expect. How you implement, and how you teach it, and the little parts that go into it change a little bit ob
viously. Because on the upper level, you are going to see a myriad of looks."
Giardina will face inherit pressure this Friday night when he faces Shorecrest Prep in the spring game, which also acts as his varsity debut.
"I've gone through a lot of pressure in my life, and I'm planning on dealing with it like a regular game," Giardina said.
That pressure he's dealt with comes from performing piano recitals, his status as president in the honor society and his experience playing football at every level.
It's why the Panthers have a player poised to replace departing senior Ryan Cobb. BCS hopes Giardina will lead the Panthers to a successful fall campaign and the program's first postseason berth.
But first, it's getting that opening game under his belt.