Waid, Indians get another shot at Perry
By BOB ETTINGER
The world outside the Girard football team’s locker room might look at the Indians as giant killers in 2018 after defeating three playoff teams and three teams with at least seven wins over the last three weeks.
Inside that locker room, however, is a much different feeling.
“This is a group that’s had a lot of success the last two years,” Girard coach Pat Pearson said. “In a lot of people’s eyes, we’re the underdog. That’s not the way we look at it. We don’t look at ourselves like we’re underdogs. We’re focused on the task at hand and getting better and better every day. Our ultimate goal is to play for a state championship. That’s where we want to get to.”
The Indians (10-1), seeded fifth, will take the next step toward that goal in battling top-seeded Perry (10-1) in a Division IV, Region 13 semifinal at Lakeside Stadium in Saybrook Township on Saturday night.
The Pirates eliminated the Indians last season, 50-21, in a regional semifinal a year ago.
“We have a mantra — ‘Reach Your Full Potential,’ ” Pearson said. “We told the boys, you either win a state championship or somebody beats you. If they beat you and you’ve reached your full potential, there’s nothing to be upset about. [Perry] knocked us off last year. They’re a very good team. We’re focused on the little things, getting to this point. Hopefully, it falls our way.”
Girard toppled East (7-4), last Saturday, and Liberty (7-3) and LaBrae (10-1), unbeaten at the time, in the previous weeks.
“We’re very excited and proud of what the boys did,” Pearson said. “But we didn’t have time to enjoy it and [the boys] didn’t, either. We went back to work. All we’ve ever wanted was another Monday together. We’re focused on today and we just want to get better. We’re fighting to keep the family together.”
The Indians weren’t looked at favorably heading into the games with East or LaBrae. That meant little to quarterback Mark Waid and his teammates.
“We’ve been counted out the entire season by people outside our family,” Waid said. “People outside the family can think what they want. We play as one. We motivate each other. We push each other. When we play a game on Friday nights, we have fun and we play for each other and the city of Girard. When you play against me and my brothers, you’re playing against the entire community of Girard.”
That word — family — isn’t used lightly by Pearson or the Indians. It’s something they’ve come to believe in.
“It’s a special thing to be part of,” Waid said. “We’re not teammates. We’re family. These guys are my brothers. We rely on each other. We play for each other. That’s what motivates us to do the right things on and off the field.”
Pearson and the Indians have made a point of sharing those feelings amongst themselves regularly, helping to strengthen that bond.
“In our program, we say ‘love’ a lot,” Pearson said. “We tell each other we love each other. We mean it. We’re a true family. We get together for team dinners two or three times a week. All we’re trying to do is keep it together. This group is a special group. They fight every day for one more day together.”