Spring football preview | Healthy QB Joey Giardina ready to pilot Bradenton Christian offense

jdill@bradenton.comMay 15, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Joey Giardina enters Friday's spring game bigger and stronger.

But most importantly, the Bradenton Christian quarterback is healthy.

Giardina's non-throwing shoulder isn't bothering him anymore. Giardina said offseason surgery has fixed the problem after three dislocations.

"I was definitely discouraged at first," Giardina said. "I just tried to tell myself to keep a positive attitude. With the surgery and everything going well, I feel good now."

The rising junior has faced adversity throughout his Panthers career, which started when he was entrusted with the offense as a freshman. Then last season, his role expanded from getting fully comfortable with the system to being a main offensive weapon after the Panthers' talented skill player, wide receiver/running back Sinclair Laskett, was injured for five games.

"You don't see that freshman panic," BCS head coach Allan Gerber said. "You don't see him affected by, 'Oh this look is a strange look. No, I've seen it before.' And that maturity is something I see every day."

And Giardina blossomed despite dealing with that nagging shoulder injury.

"It challenged me to take the more leadership role last year, which I still had but it made me do it more," Giardina said.

A key component to Giardina's game has been what he has done in the offseason. He added muscle and grew a bit since that freshman campaign, when he stood 5-foot-7 and weighed roughly 130 pounds.

"Now I am 154 (pounds), the last time I weighed myself, and 5-9," Giardina said. "I think it helps a good amount. It makes me more durable. And it gives me a little more confidence."

There is still a facet to his game that must improve if the Panthers are to earn the program's first playoff berth in the fall. That is accuracy down the field with his passes.

"He completed 64 percent of his passes last year, but they weren't vertical," Gerber said.

On Friday, BCS squares off against Southwest Florida Christian and Saint Stephen's in a round-robin controlled scrimmage.

While Gerber said Giardina will be "on a pitch count," his starting quarterback will get enough time in the game to showcase his abilities, whether by air or ground.

Giardina ran for more than 700 yards last season to top BCS ball carriers, while tallying more than 1,000 passing yards.

"I'm happy to be able to get back into it and playing full with my shoulder good and throw the ball a little bit and see what happens," Giardina said.

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