By Steve ruman
The search for the next Girard High football coach didn’t extend beyond city borders, or beyond the program itself for that matter.
Superintendent David Cappuzzello confirmed on Monday that Pat Pearson has been chosen to be the Indians’ next head coach. Pending board approval, Pearson will replace Nick Cochran, who resigned last month to assume the role of Girard athletic director.
The Girard Board of Education meets Wednesday and is expected to approve Cappuzzello’s recommendation to hire Pearson.
“It was an honor for me to play for the community of Girard, it was an honor to serve as an assistant and it will be an honor and a privilege to lead the program,” Pearson said. “I love the passion and the fire which exists within this community.
“I am all about Girard, and about maintaining the pride of this program.”
A Girard High graduate, Pearson played under Bud McSuley. He was a three-sport standout and the captain of his football, basketball and baseball teams during his senior year. He went on to play football at Baldwin-Wallace, then served as a graduate assistant for three years at Youngstown State under Jon Heacock.
Pearson coached for four years at Warren Harding under D.J. Dota (three as defensive coordinator), and spent the past three years as Girard’s defensive coordinator.
He believes his background has prepped him for what lies ahead.
“I could not have had better mentors in Bud, Jon, D.J. and Nick,” Pearson said. “All four of those men taught me so much about football and about life. They taught me what it means to be a head coach.”
“It’s not all about football. It’s about building character and developing relationships. Those guys were great role models, and I hope to take what I learned from them and maintain it within our program.”
Pearson said fans shouldn’t expect to see any major changes from previous Girard teams. He plans to retain the majority of last year’s staff, and will keep in place a system noted for its stingy defenses and record-breaking offenses.
“Bud and Nick established something very special here, and I just want to maintain the tradition,” Pearson said.
McSuley also submitted an application and was believed to be the front-runner, but later informed Cappuzzello that he was pulling his name from consideration.
“When we received applications from both Bud and Paul, we knew that we couldn’t go wrong either way,” Cappuzzello said.
Cappuzzello described Pearson as “a Girard guy through and through,” and a coach who would connect with players.
“Even though he has never been a head coach, Paul brings a lot of experience to the table, and he is very well-respected among the players and staff,” Cappuzzello said. “He will maintain a continuity that existed under McSuley and Cochran.”
Pearson resides in Girard with his wife Lacey, and three children, A.J., Ian and Mia. He is employed as a physical education and health teacher in the Warren City School System.