Girard beats Brookfield, remains undefeated

GIRARD — Things started out just as underdog Brookfield planned it Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Warriors drove the ball 79 yards in 15 plays on the first possession of the game, scoring on a 3-yard run by freshman quarterback Hayden Gibson while taking almost seven minutes off the clock.

Senior running back Alex Clark, who finished with 127 yards rushing on 29 carries, did the bulk of the work on the scoring drive, running 11 times for 57 yards.

After that, it was all Girard as the Indians (7-0, 3-0 All-American Conference Blue Tier) routed the Warriors (2-5, 0-2), 56-7.

“They have a heck of a team. They’re huge up front, the running back is tough,” Girard coach Pat Pearson said of the Warriors. “We knew we were in for a challenge and they put it right down our throat. We had to wake up and execute what we wanted to do. Once we settled in we played our brand of football.”

The Indians’ brand of football is to move the ball — mostly through the air — behind junior quarterback Mark Waid, who was 18-for-26 passing on the night for 308 yards. He also ran for 72 yards on eight carries as the Indians put up 501 total yards.

It was more than the Brookfield offense could keep up with.

“We don’t throw the ball alot and when they went to man coverage and loaded the box, we struggled a little bit,” Brookfield coach Randy Clark said. “I’m proud of our kids, we played hard. Alex ran the ball hard. It’s just tough when we’re trying to block eight guys with five.”

Girard scored on its first three possessions on a 2-yard keeper by Waid, a 10-yard pass from Waid to Michael Belcik and on a 20-yard scamper by Morgan Clardy. The Indians took a 21-7 lead into half, then saw it increase to 28-7 when Clardyy ran the second-half kickoff back 68 yards for a score.

Waid has plenty of help in the Girard offense. Belcik had eight catches for 129 yards and Anthony Backus added four grabs for 98 yards. Clardy rushed five times for 33 yards.

“Everybody played a tremendous game, I couldn’t be prouder,” Waid said. “It makes my job easy when the other 10 guys are performing as best they can. It makes it easy to sit back there and get it to Belcik, Backus, anyone who’s open, and the offensive line blocked amazing.”

Though Waid’s two scoring passes in the game came on passes to the center of the field, the Indians opened things up with an outside passing game, including a very effective use of the bubble screen.

“There are a lot of options off that bubble screen,” Pearson said. “The quarterback can run the ball, he can throw the ball and he can throw to the backside. Whatever he sees fit, where we have a numbers advantage.

“The offensive coaches do a great job getting those kids ready and Marky does a great job recognizing things. He gets it to our kids in space and that’s a good thing for us.”

Waid says that success comes from hard work in the offseason.

“All throughout summer and the offseason we focused on reading defenses and figuring out who will be open,” he said. “They (offensive coaches) are confident in me and I’m confident in the play calling.”

Coach Clark of the Warriors was an eyewitness to what the Indians’ offense can do.

“He (Waid) reads the defense very well and he gets rid of the ball, and he’s got a gun,” Clark said. “He’s got a nice supporting cast. Belcik is pretty good on the edge, and Backus, and they’ve got a nice line. That’s a good team over there.”

Besides being good, the undefeated Indians are focused as well, according to Pearson.

“This is one of the most focused groups I’ve ever been around,” he said. “The last two years all of these guys have been a part of this and we’ve been building from it. They are really set on a mission. They’re not looking down the road, they’re enjoying the process, they’re trusting the process.

“They’re going out each night trying to compete for each other. They’re trying to bring back this community and bring back the pride in Girard football.”

So far in 2017, they are succeeding.