Senior QB Waid leads 49-13 romp over Niles
NILES — Mark Waid stood alongside his football teammates, facing up at a tropical-themed student section standing on a railing on the visitors’ side of Bo Rein Stadium.
They carried a tune which has been sung throughout the years at Girard High School. It’s the school’s alma mater.
It’s not just a song. For Waid, it’s a reminder how being one of the Indians faithful has transformed his life after he moved into the school system in eighth grade — and was embraced as one of their own.
There’s Girard’s football lore: Nick Cochran, Bill and Mel Triplett.
“It’s emotional,” Waid said following Thursday’s 49-13 victory over Niles. “There’s nothing better than it. To sing the alma mater after the win, you can feel the ghosts and spirits of Girard history and past with us.”
Waid, who has been an all-Ohio player the past two seasons, made his case to be one of those Indian legends. The first half said it all. Waid was 20 of 22 for 330 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for the other two scores as Girard led 35-6 at halftime. It’s a fact pointed out to the 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior quarterback committed to Fordham University.
“I didn’t, but I know I have two incompletions,” Waid said with a smile. “I’ve got to get 22 for 22.”
A running clock ensued after Aidan Warga’s 21-yard touchdown reception from Waid with 6:39 left in the third quarter. Waid finished 35 of 42 for 400 yards and four scores.
Warga had eight receptions for 114 yards, while Nick Malito added five receptions for 165 yards — all in the first half. Each had two receiving touchdowns.
Waid had Michael Belcik, a 1,500-yard receiver, last season. He was Waid’s favorite target. There’s much more this year with Warga, Malito, Terrance Davis, Marco Donatelli, Jamil Bannister and Mike Johnson.
“I’ve talked to the coaches,” Waid said. “This feels like the best wide receiver corps we’ve had in Girard history.”
No quarterback is successful without a great offensive line and Girard is no different.
“They know if they give Mark time and with Mark’s abilities and our receivers and skill set, we’re going to have a lot of success on offense,” Girard coach Pat Pearson said.
Niles first-year coach Jim Parry knew his team had to commit one way or another facing the Indians. Facing a five-receiver spread is more than a bit taxing. So is Waid.
It was a rough night for the Red Dragons. The only shining spots were Robbie Savin’s 16 carries for 114 yards and sophomore quarterback Zach Leonard’s 8 of 16 for 84 yards and his 43-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
“It wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen or didn’t expect, but their execution is off the charts,” Parry said. “Our kids need to learn that’s what you need to do to be successful.”
Girard had its setbacks in the first quarter with seven penalties for 56 yards.
Pearson said his team, led by Waid, stayed focused on the goal and his teammates.
“It’s awesome to have a guy like that,” Pearson said.
Waid is quick to point out his teammates are the reason for his success. He loves the fan base, especially the gaggle of students taking up the northeast side of Bo Rein Stadium.
“Here at Girard, not only our team, but our community is behind us,” Waid said. “Coming out here it’s like playing with 100. It’s awesome.”
Pearson, who was standing alongside his young sons, Ian and A.J., for the alma mater, knows Girard is more than a team. It’s a community.
“It’s special,” he said. “This is a family here. We have all of our sons and daughters. We’re all together, one big family.”
Next week, Niles plays host to Poland, while Girard travels to Hubbard for a big Week 2 matchup.
“We’re going to go out and try to make this community proud,” Pearson said.
It’s just the way these Indians operate.