Pearson tapped as next Girard coach

Although it’s physically impossible to bleed a town or its colors, if there’s one person who could bleed the black and red of Girard, Pat Pearson is that man.

Pearson went through the Girard school system in the 1990s and served as the defensive coordinator for the Girard High School football team for the past three seasons under Nick Cochran. Now, he can add head coach to that list.

The Girard Board of Education will meet today and is expected to approve Pearson as the Indians’ next head football coach for the upcoming season. Pearson will be taking over for Cochran, who ended his reign as coach to become the athletic director next year.

“It’s really a dream come true,” Pearson said. “I was born in Girard, raised in Girard, I went to school there, played (football, basketball and baseball). I live there now, raising my family in Girard, and it’s just an honor to be able to lead this program and be a part of this.”

Pearson played under Bud McSuley, who is Girard’s winningest coach in program history after accumulating an 84-54 record over 13 seasons from 1997-2009, and both Pearson and McSuley were the top candidates for the job. McSuley bowed out, leaving Pearson as Girard’s guy.

Current athletic director Joe Cappuzzello said Pearson is a great fit for the school, considering his history with the team.

“He understands the rivalries and the makeup of this school,” Cappuzzello said. “We feel very confident that Pat will be able to continue the successful ways that coach McSuley and coach Cochran have done for Girard in recent times.”

To go along with his former mentor McSuley, Pearson said he will draw inspiration from previous coaching ventures.

He began his coaching career after graduating from Baldwin Wallace in 2003, where he played linebacker. He joined the Youngstown State coaching staff as a graduate assistant under Jon Heacock from 2004 to 2006, and he then coached at Warren G. Harding under D.J. Dota for four years, becoming the defensive coordinator the final three years before taking the same position at Girard in 2010 under Cochran.

“Those are four of the finest men that you can be around,” Pearson said. “I’ve learned a lot about coaching football from them, but I also learned a lot about life and making a difference in the kids’ lives and things. I’m really going to draw from all four of those guys.”

All of Pearson’s coaching experience until now has come on the defensive side of the ball, and while taking more of an interest in the offense going forward, he said he still plans on stressing defense. Pearson pointed to his staff to help on offense to fill the void left by the offensive guru, Cochran.

“Obviously, as a head coach, you got to be a game manager and got to be a part of the whole game, but I plan on keeping my emphasis on the defense,” Pearson said. “I have some great people around here – offensive-minded guys. I would be a part of that, but I would trust the people that I hire to really take a lot of that offensive stuff on.”

Considering he was a part of the coaching staff from last season, Pearson said the transition should be smooth.

“We really have a unique coaching staff and unique environment,” Pearson said. “We really feel like we’re true family down there. All of coaches, we refer to ourselves as brothers. The kids know us, are familiar with us. We’ve all been in there with them since Dec. 1, and we think it’s really going to be a seamless transition.”