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Girard runs over Lakeview

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Girard's Mike Palmer shoves Lakeview senior Nate Fox away while running down the field.

GIRARD — What a way to make a return.

Girard’s Dom Malito made his return to the field Friday after missing two games with an injury and exploded every time he touched the ball.

The Indians senior rushed for two scores and 180 yards in a 34-14 victory over Northeast-8 rival Lakeview.

“He definitely made a huge impact tonight,” Girard coach Pat Pearson said. “What a great player. What an unselfish kid, he just wants to be with his teammates and all he cares about is their success. When one of your superstars has that attitude, that’s a good thing.”

To Pearson, Malito’s success Friday is symbolic of the whole team’s attitude this season. They might take a punch, but they’re going to give one right back at you.

“Our kids are resilient,” Pearson said. “We’ve had some ups and downs so far this year, we found our way to get to 4-1. We’ve had injuries every week. It’s just a crazy season, but our kids are resilient, they’re a tight-knit family and they don’t blink in adversity, they just keep going. They did it again tonight.”

Girard suffered adversity once again with quarterback Triston Valley suffering an injury early in the contest. Malito, who started the game at wide receiver, shifted back under center and took over the game.

Late in the game, Girard’s reserve quarterback Stephen Sims stepped under center after being primarily utilized as a tailback.

Sims closed out the first half and opened up the second half with two scores on as many touches. Sims scored from nine yards out late in the second quarter and from eight yards out on his first and second carries respectively. He finished the game with 45 yards. Girard’s Michael Palmer ran for 67 yards.

Friday’s game was a battle of strong runners under center with Lakeview’s Nate Fox having a great performance for the Bulldogs as well.

Fox ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Fox, a senior, has been instrumental in keeping Lakeview focused through the tough season.

Bulldogs coach Sam Bellino mentioned how Fox has done nothing but improve since taking over the quarterback role.

“This is Nate’s first year playing quarterback and every game he plays, he gets a little bit better,” Bellino said. “Our offense looks a little bit better so I’m happy to see his progression. We’re going to go as he goes. He’s one of our captains. Throughout the offseason, he was a leader in the weight room. He’s the offensive and defensive MVP last year as a junior so these guys naturally look up to him. He really tries to rally the team with his athletic ability, his playmaking skills and he’s the vocal leader which you don’t get very often.”

Girard has arguably its toughest match yet as the Indians travel to South Range to take on the Raiders on Friday.

“We take it step-by-step, day-by-day, so it’s our toughest game because it’s our next game,” Pearson said. “Those guys are just a tremendous program, they do a tremendous job. I mean this whole Northeast-8 is loaded. We have our hands full. We’ll worry about that tomorrow. Tonight, we’re just gonna enjoy the win and enjoy these kids and then we’ll prepare to go represent the community again next week.”

Up next, the Bulldogs (0-5) look to get their first win against Struthers.

“We’re giving everything we’ve got for 48 minutes now,” Bellino said. “Our record isn’t where we want it to be, but again we’re playing hard for 48 minutes and we’re going to continue to play hard for 48 minutes until Joe Eitel tells us we’ve got to go home.”

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