Former McDowell Titan star running back Davon Gardner has signed a contract with the High Country Grizzlies arena football team.

Gardner, coming off an MVP season with the semipro Rutherford County Raiders, will be part of the first Grizzlies squad to compete in the newly formed Arena Developmental League (ADL) when the season begins next March.

Gardner was named the WCFL (World Class Football League) Most Valuable Player after rushing for 1,432 yards and 16 touchdowns on just 84 carries for the Raiders, who went 10-0 last season. He averaged 143 yards per game and a remarkable 17 yards per carry.

In the league championship game, Gardner went for 132 yards and two TDs on only eight carries.

Gardner and former Titan Dakota Arrowood were members of a Team USA squad that defeated Team Mexico in the Cancun Yucatan Bowl in August. Gardner rushed for 152 yards and two scores on just eight carries in the all-star game.

Gardner’s performances caught the eye of Grizzlies coach Dale Glossenger, and both he and Arrowood were invited to try out for the Grizzlies. Gardner and Team USA teammate Jerry Goode were eventually offered contracts, while Arrowood was invited to return for another workout with the team.

The Grizzlies will play their home games in Appalachian State University’s Holmes Convocation Center.

Gardner, a 2006 McDowell graduate, is the school’s second-leading rusher of all time. The two-time All-Northwestern 4A Conference performer rushed for 2,585 yards and 23 touchdowns on 552 carries at MHS.

His senior year, Gardner carried 339 times for 1,727 yards and 14 TDs, the third-best season ever by a Titan. He only fumbled once all year, but recovered an opponent’s fumble on the ensuing possession. That season, Gardner also caught six passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns, and returned 23 kicks for an average of 27.4 yards per return and two more scores. He also threw a halfback pass for yet another TD.

The ADL season runs from March to May. For more information about the team, visit the club’s website at