OHIO DIVISION IV STATE CHAMPIONSHIP More from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium
Attendance: The Girard-Wyoming game drew 5,532 fans. The seven games played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium from Thursday through Saturday attracted 52,390 fans.
Player of the year: Wyoming quarterback Evan Prater was the All-Ohio Division IV Offensive Player of the Year. The senior rushed for 242 yards on 35 runs, scored three touchdowns, passed for 149 yards and threw two scoring tosses. Asked if he had ever performed better with so much at stake, Prater said, “I don’t think so.” He said nursing a three-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter “was a great feeling but we knew that we couldn’t stop. We knew we had to finish that fourth quarter and celebrate after.” Girard quarterback Mark Waid called Prater “a special player, I’m happy for him.”
Waid’s numbers: The Cowboys’ aggressive defense contained Waid from his usual dominant numbers. Waid ran 13 times for 31 yards and passed for 194 by completing 11 of 29 throws.
Yardage: Wyoming rushed for 355 yards and added 149 more through the air. “That is a special group,” Girard coach Pat Pearson said of the Cowboys. “We had a lot of third down and longs. I thought our defense battled, they played with a lot of heart and soul against a really good unit. This whole playoff run, we found ways to get off the field. Tonight, it was a struggle.”
Moment of silence: Before the national anthem, a moment of silence was observed in memory of former President George H. W. Bush, who died Friday night. The flag in the north end zone flew at half-mast.
Plenty of blowouts: Wyoming had two close calls during its 14-game winning streak. In Week 2, Wyoming edged Taft (8-2), 14-12. In the second round of the playoffs, Wyoming needed overtime to oust Indian Hill (9-3), 20-17. None of Girard’s games were close in the regular season, but the postseason had a couple of wild adventures. In Week 11, the Indians saw a huge halftime lead evaporate against East. Girard rallied late for a 34-30 win. In the state semifinal, Girard scored in the final minutes for a 53-48 win over Licking Valley.
Big stage: After nine trips to the postseason, Girard played in its first state championship game. Wyoming has 24 playoff appearances. The Cowboys were state champions in 1977 and runners-up in 1975.
Tom Williams, The Vindicator