Big things expected at Girard; could Waid pass for 3K?

Girard will play host to Niles in their Thursday opener.

Girard Indians High School Football - Girard, Ohio

2017 Girard Football Preview
Head Coach: Pat Pearson, 4th season (13-18)
Last Season: 3-7 (3-3), 4th place in AAC Blue Tier
Division: IV (Region 13)

More:High School Football previews from other teams

The Good News
Returning Starters: Offense – 8; Defense – 9
“We have a very hungry group determined and committed to get Girard football back where it belongs,” says coach Pearson. “Our offense is explosive and can score a lot of points. We have a bigger, stronger improved offensive line. We’re very athletic and experienced on defense. They fly around and love playing the game.”

Girard’s junior quarterback Mark Waid was named the Offensive Player of the Year in the AAC Blue Tier last Fall as just a sophomore. Waid increased his passing yardage (1152 to 2624), completion percentage (50% to 55.4%), touchdown passes (10 to 22), rushing yards (394 to 725), and rushing touchdowns (4 to 16). Their top two returning receivers Michael Belcik and Anthony Backus both return for their senior seasons in 2017. Belcik saw his receiving stats skyrocket from a 5-catch, 116-yard sophomore year in 2015 to a receiver who led the team in almost every receiving category (44 catches, 980 yards, 11 TDs). Backus has hauled in 31 passes for 432 yards (13.9 average) over the last two seasons. The coaching staff is very high on sophomore Nick Malito, who at 6’3 is a big target for Waid and could flourish this coming campaign. A good sign for the Indians (offense and defense) is the return of First-Team All-League junior lineman Jack DelGarbino. Number 56 led the team in quarterback sacks (3.0) as he was involved with 88 tackles. Also returning along the front lines is Marcus Caudill and Haeden Gump. The senior Caudill (6’3, 340 lbs) enjoyed a great off-season as this Fall will be his fourth as a starter. Gump started last year as a freshman at right tackle. Senior Carlos Bach, linebacker, paced the Indians’ defense with 103 tackles. Bach has amassed 174 defensive stops over the past two seasons. Girard features a handful of juniors who could be in for big years which includes Jamil Bannister (56 tackles). Pearson states that Bannister is one of the most explosive players he’s ever been around. The leader on defense is a high energy guy who’s already lettered two years. Daryl Smith (35 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INTs), Aidan Warga (15 tackles) and Terrance Davis (47 tackles, 1 INT) each return also for their junior seasons as well. Smith, who splits time at fullback and also linebacker, is a force coming off the edge. Warga started last year as he is pegged as being cerebral and aggressive. Pearson views Davis – a 6’3 corner – as a player who could become one of the area’s premier players. Seniors Nino Mayle (44 tackles), Devin Wilson, Belcik (33 tackles), and Backus (3 INTs) will all be looked upon for their leadership in 2017. Mayle was lost last year with a broken hand. Malito enjoyed a solid freshman year as the team’s punter. Malito booted 38 punts and averaged 37.2 yards per boot.

2017 Schedule
Aug. 24 – Niles, 7
Sept. 1 – Hubbard, 7
Sept. 9 – at Warren JFK, 7
Sept. 15 – Champion, 7
Sept. 22 – at Jefferson, 7
Sept. 29 – at Campbell Memorial, 7
Oct. 6 – Brookfield, 7
Oct. 13 – at Newton Falls, 7
Oct. 20 – at LaBrae, 7
Oct. 27 – Liberty, 7

More:High School Football schedules from other teams

Challenges
The Indians will be without First-Team All-League selection Nick Hall, who closed out his high school career with 81 tackles to go along with 35 catches for 636 yards (18.2 avg) and 4 TD grabs. Over the past two seasons, Hall compiled 149 defensive stops from the secondary. A pair of key contributors who have since graduated from last year’s roster was Kenny Walters and Trevor Gump. Walters ran for 302 yards (3 TDs) and caught 12 passes for 205 stripes (2 TDs) on offense. Defensively, he finished third on the team in tackles with 82 and had a pair of sacks. Gump accumulated 176 tackles within the last three years along the defensive front.

“On defense, we have to limit the big play,” indicates coach Pearson. “Also to improve our pass protection on offense as well as improve upon our ability to run the ball. We must learn how to finish games and not let mental mistakes cause us to not reach our goals.”

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: .594 (63-43)
Playoff Appearances: 3
Playoff Record: 3-3
League Championships: 2 (2009, 2011)
League Record: 36-22*
*-2007 Trumbull Athletic Conference; 2008-2016 All-American Conference

2016 Results
Indians 33 Liberty 15
LaBrae 48 Indians 42
Indians 48 Newton Falls 24
Brookfield 44 Indians 26
Indians 41 Campbell Memorial 35 OT
Jefferson 50 Indians 40
Champion 38 Indians 34
Warren JFK 28 Indians 7
Hubbard 30 Indians 16
Niles 47 Indians 26

2016 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 32.1 (11th in Area)
Total Offense: 378.5
Passing Offense: 263.0
Rushing Offense: 115.5
Scoring Defense: 37.3 (52nd in Area)
…Last year, Girard improved their scoring per game by nearly two touchdowns (13.6). The Indians went from a team which scored just 18.5 in 2015 to a high-powered offense which tallied 32.1 points per game in 2016.

2018 North East Eight Athletic League Lineup
Girard
Hubbard
Jefferson
Lakeview
Niles
Poland
South Range
Struthers

Key Number
Girard is seeking to avoid their first back-to-back-to-back losing seasons since 1993-95.

Featured Stat
Over the last 4 years (2013-16), there has been 6 different receivers to catch 35 passes or more during a season.
2013: Jordan Graziano – 58
2016: Michael Belcik – 44
2013: Chris Vince – 43
2013: James Cupan – 40
2015: Collin Harden – 36
2016: Nick Hall – 35

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