Sunday, December 2, 2018
By BRIAN DZENIS
Girard did its community proud in defeat.
The high-flying Indians finally met their match in their first state championship appearance in school history, losing Saturday night to Cincinnati Wyoming, 42-14.
“It’s crazy for our school, and it was amazing to be here,” said Girard student Dominic Catello, who along with his friend Vincent Dierbach braved rainy weather wearing Indian garb that wasn’t fit for cold weather.
Girard (13-2) was trying to join West Branch, Poland, Warren G. Harding, Lisbon, Brookfield and the now-defunct Warren Western Reserve as Mahoning Valley public schools that have won a state title on the gridiron. The last area public school to win a title was Poland in 1999. Seven years earlier, Girard made its first playoff appearance.
“That team was like us. They stayed strong. They stayed a family and they were motivated,” said Troy Napier, who was a part of the first playoff football team and 1993 state champion basketball team. “It was mainly about fighting for brotherhood and toward the same goals and same vision. It’s hard to beat a group of guys with the same vision.”
The state finals appearance was the brainchild of head coach Pat Pearson, who
absorbed two losing seasons developing this year’s senior class. A lot of the seniors on the 2018 team started as freshmen in 2015.
“They thought about this since eighth grade, and they endured so much,” Dierbach said. “We’ve been talking about state forever.”
Some of the stars who have bloomed include quarterback Mark Waid, one of Ohio’s all-time-leading passers, and All-Ohio left tackle Jack DelGarbino, who was also state champion in wrestling last year.
Linda Midday went to Canton to see her granddaughter, Alexis Cochran, perform with the cheerleaders and see the team for which her son-in-law, Girard Athletic Director Nick Cochran, serves as an assistant coach.
“It brought the whole town together,” Midday said. “They had send-offs for the team, and the town has banners across the road. It really brought everyone together.”
The game was all Cowboys, but the Indians had some highlights. Waid surpassed 4,000 rushing yards for his career and his third-quarter 96-yard touchdown pass to Nick Malito was the longest scoring play in a state final Ohio high school football history.