Written by Ryan Wright
When the 2022 recruiting class puts an end to their high school football career, one can make the argument that John Griffith will be the most experienced quarterback in his peer group. It is not enough that he was named the starter for his team as a freshman, but his team, St. Frances Academy, is a perennial national powerhouse. The Panthers put together a 10-0 season in 2018 ending with a No. 5 national ranking against a challenging schedule.
St. Frances Academy is once again is taking on a national schedule, but this one includes some of the toughest teams in the country raising the bar of the challenge for the Panthers and their rising three-star quarterback. One big challenge has been completed with showdowns against Mater Dei (Sept. 14), Norland (Sept. 20), St. Joseph Regional (Sept 28), and IMG Academy (Oct. 18) waiting.
No matter how one dissects Griffith’s game a year ago, he delivered under pressure helping guide the team to perfection. The 6-1, 206-pound, field general dropped dimes all over the field completing 82 percent of his passes for 1,003 yards with 22 touchdowns. The sophomore campaign is off to a great start with a 49-13 road win against Miami’s Central High School seeing Griffith pass for 218 with three scores.
The high-profile nature of Griffith’s position with the Panthers has brought high-profile attention his way. Five programs have extended offers, Kentucky, LSU, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Tennessee, with interest building. In an RNG exclusive interview partnered with QB Hit List, I sat down with one of the top quarterbacks in Maryland’s 2022 class covering his play on the field with an inside look on the Panthers’ opening game against Central.
John, playing for a high-profile team like St. Frances Academy carries a lot of weight. How did you prepare in the offseason for the mental rigors of the 2019 season?
“It was really hard. During practice, going against one of the top defenses in the nation, that helps prepare you mentally for the season. Our offense has to face one of the best defenses… Once we play a game, we are prepared. We watch a lot of film on our opponents and prepare a week ahead. We go over all the coverages and fronts, and we look at the depth of the defensive backs and linebackers to prepare. We do a lot of work to mentally prepare for each game and the season.”
What type of offense do you execute with the Panthers?
“We do everything. We move defenses with motion. We pass and run about the same.”
How does the style of play with the Panthers offense fit your talents as a quarterback?
“It definitely fits. I have known our offensive coordinator since the third grade. He tries to implement the plays to fit my abilities. He is a great coach for me.”
Which aspects of your technique did you work on over the offseason?
“Last year, my footwork was not the greatest. I worked at getting so many reps in this offseason to perfect my footwork. I am better with my quick game this year. That paid off in our last game. I am always working on reading the defense and reading coverages. Last year I threw it to the open receiver, but I did not read it. I am getting better overall with my game.”
At this point in your career, what do you feel are the strengths to your game?
“I try to put the ball in the hands of my receivers so they can make plays. I am a pocket passer. I think that is a top strength.”
Did you camp at any colleges this summer?
“Yes. I went to a Kentucky camp.”
If you will, tell me about that camp.
“It went really well. I worked with their quarterback coach. Coach (Darin) Hinshaw is a really good guy. He helped me with my mechanics. I really liked the school overall.”
Which schools are showing interest as you enter into your sophomore season?
“I am receiving interest from Ohio State, they have shown some interest. USC, N.C. State, and Wake Forest are also showing interest.”
How many offers do you have?
“I have five offers.”
Other than the camp, did you visit any other schools this offseason?
“Yes. I took visits to N.C. State and Wake Forest.”
How did the N.C. State visit go?
“I really like the school. N.C. State is a nice school with great coaches. They showed me around. N.C. State is a really good overall school.”
And the Wake Forest visit, how did that go?
“Wake Forest has great facilities and great coaches. I liked everything about their program.”
Are you hitting up any schools this fall?
“I’m not sure yet. I want to get to Michigan and LSU. I want to see those schools.”
Back to football. The Panthers went on the road picking up a big win over Miami’s Central High School. What did you guys do well as a team to pick up the big win?
“Overall, we worked together. Our team, we are a family. We are all together. My receivers and offensive line, everyone around me is great. We have really good players on our team.”
How did the game work out for you?
“I think I did well. After looking at the film, I can do better. I see things I can work on for this season. We looked good, but we are not comfortable yet.”
Do you know your stat line from the Central game?
“I know we had 218 passing yards and three passing touchdowns.”
You guys welcome Simeon, one of the top teams in Illinois, this week. What kind of matchup are you looking at going against the Wolverines’ defense?
“Like any other team, we will study them and prepare. We have not gone over the defense yet. We did a walk through today to start preparing. We will watch their film and get the game plan together.”
What are some of the other games on the schedule you guys are hyped to play this season?
“I am looking forward to IMG Academy (FL) and Mater Dei (CA) games.”
John, thanks for your time today and good luck with the big season ahead.
Photo credit: St. Frances Academy; No. 13 John Griffith