GIRARD, Ohio (WKBN) – Girard has advanced to the post-season in each of the past five years. The Indians have qualified for the playoffs 12 times in school history, winning at least one playoff game in nine of those appearances.

“Our tradition and history are important to our kids and to this community,” said Coach Pat Pearson, who’s entering his ninth season at the helm of his alma mater. “These guys want to leave their own mark.”

The Indians will welcome back 24 letter winners from last year’s roster.

Girard’s offense amassed over 400 yards per game and scored 30 points or more in seven outings a year ago. Senior Nic Bengala threw for 1,017 yards passing and completed 69.5% of his passes. Bengala also finished second on the team in rushing yards with 632 (10 TDs) while leading the team in receiving yards per catch (18.3). First-team All-League recipient Michael Palmer is also back after rushing for over 1,100 yards (1174) and scoring 14 touchdowns on the ground.

Pearson pointed out, “We feel really good about our skill group returning. There’s a lot of kids who have played a big part over the last two seasons back to help lead us. Our group upfront has been working very hard in the off-season. We’ll go as far as they can take us.”

Junior kicker Zack Morris was almost automatic last year as he booted through 40 of 43 extra points and kicked a 34-yard field goal against Struthers.

Defensively, the team lost Nassim Lloyd (116 tackles), Jordan Grant (68 tackles) and Dominic Malito. The unit returns a large group of seniors led by linebacker Jake Dohy (139 tackles, 6 TFL) and defensive back Connor Strain (114 tackles) along with junior defensive lineman Isaac Griffith (66 tackles).

“Our strength on defense comes from our skill positions,” indicated Pearson. “We have 11 guys, who at some point, have started for us coming back. Throughout our history here at Girard, the years that we can play solid defense are the years that we compete for and win championships.”

In their seven wins a year ago, Girard’s defense allowed just 18.1 points per game. In their five losses, the Indians permitted an average of 45 points.

The Indians begin their 2022 campaign at Streetsboro on Friday, August 19.

Girard Indians
Fast Facts
Head Coach: Pat Pearson, 9th season (53-38)
2021 Record: 7-5 (4-3), 4th place in Northeast 8
Last 5 Years: 40-20 (66.7%)
Home Field: Arrowhead Stadium
League: Northeast 8 Conference
Base Offense: Spread
Base Defense: 3-4

Returning Starters
Offense: 7
Defense: 8

2021 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 36.4 (10th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 35.1 (53rd in Area)
Total Offense: 412.2
Rushing Offense: 261.9
Passing Offense: 151.3

2021 Individual Leaders
Passing: Nic Bengala – 1017 yards, 69.5% (73-105), 5 TDs
Rushing: Michael Palmer – 1174 yards, 7.1 avg, 14 TDs
Receiving: Dominic Malito – 435 yards, 14.5 avg, 3 TDs
Tackles: Jake Dohy – 139
Quarterback Sacks: Connor Strain – 6

2021 Results
Perry 42 Indians 22*
Indians 49 Gilmour Academy 26*
Indians 49 Niles 28
Indians 31 Struthers 12
Hubbard 29 Indians 15
Poland 42 Indians 21
South Range 41 Indians 14
Indians 31 Lakeview 14
Indians 35 Jefferson 34
Indians 35 Ellet 0
Indians 27 Liberty 13
Streetsboro 70 Indians 35
*-playoff

2021 Northeast 8 Standings
South Range – 7-0 (13-1)
Hubbard – 6-1 (10-2)
Poland – 5-2 (8-4)
Girard – 4-3 (7-5)
Niles – 2-4 (4-5)
Struthers – 2-5 (4-6)
Jefferson – 1-5 (4-6)
Lakeview – 0-7 (0-10)

2022 Schedule
Aug. 19 – at Streetsboro
Aug. 26 – Liberty
Sept. 2 – at Ellet
Sept. 9 – at Jefferson
Sept. 16 – at Lakeview
Sept. 23 – South Range
Sept. 30 – at Poland
Oct. 7 – Hubbard
Oct. 14 – at Struthers
Oct. 21 – Niles