Girard, Waid defeat Niles on the road
By Steve ruman
The Girard-Niles high school football rivalry dates back 120 years, and in that span the two teams have met on the gridiron 76 times.
It seems safe to say that in the storied history of the series, no player has put together a first half performance quite like Girard senior Mark Waid.
On Thursday night at Bo Rein Stadium, Waid completed 20 of 22 passes prior to intermission for 330 yards as the Indians opened their season with a 49-13 win over the backyard rival Red Dragons.
Waid threw three first-half touchdowns and ran for two more. He finished the night completing 25 of 33 passes (four for touchdowns) for 400 yards. He added 40 yards on the ground.
“I had no clue what my stats were, but I guess it just means that I have to shoot for 22 of 22,” Waid said when informed of his first-half heroics. “Honestly, this isn’t about me. I rely on my teammates to pick me up. This is a team game. We all move as one.”
“Here at Girard, the way that the school and the community is behind us, it’s like we’re playing with 100 people out there.”
In fact, the Niles defense must have felt as though they were facing 100 weapons. Waid completed passes to six different receivers. Nick Malito led the receiving corps with five receptions (two touchdowns) for 165 yards. Aidan Warga pulled in nine passes (two touchdowns) for 115 yards.
“It’s really tough losing a player like Michael Belcik (to graduation), but I was just telling our coaching staff that I think this is the best wide receiving corps we’ve ever had in Girard history,” Waid said.
Girard wasted no time scoring its first points of the year. The Indians needed just seven plays to march 80 yards on the game’s first possession. The drive was capped by a one-yard Waid run.
Penalties and a fumble slowed Girard down for the rest of the first quarter, but the Indians scored 28 second-quarter points to go up 35-6 at the break. When the Indians scored at the 6:39 mark of the third quarter on a Waid 21 yard pass to Warga, the continuous clock rule was put into effect for the rest of the game.
“We stayed focused. It was close early but we just kept grinding and grinding and our leadership and maturity took over,” said Girard coach Pat Pearson. “Our guys came out prepared. They worked hard all summer. (Niles) is a heck of a team over there, that coaching staff is doing a great job.”
Pearson was especially pleased with the play of his offensive line, and of course, his star quarterback.
“The O-line did a great job, they work their tails off and they know if they give [Waid] time it will result in success,” Pearson said. “Mark is just a special player. He had an early turnover, we had some penalties, but he doesn’t let anything bother him.”
Niles was led by senior Robbie Savin, who rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Sophomore quarterback Zack Leonard completed 8 of 17 passes for 85 yards and also rushed for a 43-yard score.
“Zack played well, he really showed that he is a true competitor,” said first-year Niles coach Jim Parry. “Robbie, we have to get him more touches.”
“We had very few bright spots, Girard handled us in all phases of the game. In football the biggest jump, the biggest room for improvement happens from week one to week two. We have to get better this week.”
Niles will look to rebound next week when it hosts Poland. Girard looks to win its second straight when it travels to Hubbard.