GIRARD, Ohio (WKBN) – “We feel like it’s one of the deepest receiving groups we’ve had in a long time,” Girard head coach Pat Pearson said. “I think that’s saying a lot, coming from a school like us that throws the ball a lot and normally puts out a lot of good receivers, but we’ve got eight or nine guys that we really feel good about.”
Watch the video above to hear more from Coach Pearson on the upcoming season.
2020 Record: 4-6 (2-4, T-5th place in Northeast 8)
Coach: Pat Pearson, 8th season (46-33)
Previewing Girard’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 27.2 (T-27th in Area)
Returning Starters: 5
Key Returnees: Nic Bengala, JR/WR; Dean Deciancio, SR/OL; Nassim Lloyd, SR/OL; Dom Malito, SR/WR; Preston Mays, JR/WR; Triston Valley, JR/QB
Key Losses: Drew Delgarbino, QB; Tyler Maddox, RB
Name to watch for: Dom Malito, WR
Girard averaged 33 points over their last four games of the 2020 season. They’ll attempt to keep that scoring barrage going into the new year with a new starter at quarterback and a new featured runner.
Last year, Drew Delgarbino completed 58.3% of his tosses (126-216) for 1,837 yards and 14 scores. He also ran for 467 yards and scored five times on the ground. Tyler Maddox led the Indians in rushing with 726 yards on 5.8 yards per attempt and 10 touchdowns. Maddox also caught 11 passes for an average of 15.2 yards per reception. Both have since graduated.
This summer, Coach Pearson will have a couple of key position battles.
“At quarterback, we have junior Triston Valley – who had some varsity reps at quarterback last year,” Pearson said. “He has a very strong arm and can make plays with his feet. He’s worked hard so far in the off-season and has become one of our leaders. Freshman Stephen Sims is a super athlete, he’s very young but will have a chance to find his way on the field in some way or another on Friday nights. We also have a couple of kids that we like at the running back position. We’ll need to use the summer and August camps to sort out the position.”
Girard returns each of their 200-yard receivers. Dom Malito played the entire year with a broken left wrist and a broken right thumb went onto lead the team in receptions (50), receiving yards (729) and receiving touchdowns (7). Preston Mays (17 catches, 253 yards) and Nic Bengala (226 receiving yards, 3 TDs) put together strong sophomore campaigns on the outside. Look for Jordan Grant, Bobby Alejars, Ryan Fitzgerald, Conner Strain, Stephen Sims and Domenico Simone to push for time at one of the receivers’ spots this summer. Pearson’s excited about his pass catchers
“We feel as if they’re one of the best groups in the area. It might be the deepest group that we’ve ever had which is saying a lot coming from our school which has produced so many talented groups throughout the years,” he said.
Last season, Nassim Lloyd and Dean Deciancio graded out at 91% and 85% respectively. Lloyd recorded nine pancake blocks while Deciancio finished his junior year with 6. The two senior linemen will be joined by three other of their classmates up front this fall – Ben Stirling, Gabe Mager and Anthony Moore.
Previewing Girard’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 31.6 (54th in Area)
Returning Starters: 7
Key Returnees: Nic Bengala, JR/DB; Jake Dohy, JR/LB; Dom Malito, SR/DB; Preston Mays, JR/DB; Triston Valley, JR/LB
Key Losses: Amari Curd, LB; Drew Delgarbino, LB; Jared Koch, DL; Cameron Lamonica, DB; Deshawn Williams, LB
Name to watch for: Nic Bengala, DB
After their shutout win over Lakeview (35-0) in the opener, the Girard defense allowed their next nine opponents to average 35.1 points per game. Within that final stretch, the Indians permitted three teams to score 50-plus points.
“We have a lot of guys returning from last year’s group which is always a plus,” Pearson said. “However, there’s a lot of work to be done on that side of the ball to get us back to a championship level. I’ve always said that the years we play solid defense here at Girard are the years we compete for the league championships and make deep playoff runs.”
Girard features plenty of speed to go along with experience. In the secondary, Girard welcomes back a group that’s headlined by Dom Malito (59 tackles), Preston Mays (48 tackles) and Nic Bengala (38 tackles). There’s plenty of depth with Jordan Grant, Bobby Alejars, Ryan Fitzgerald, Stephen Sims and Domenico Simone ready to take a bigger role on the defensive side of the ball.
At linebacker, the Indians will have Conner Strain (24 tackles) and Triston Valley (53 tackles) on the outside, and Jake Dohy (60 tackles) and Dante Byrne on the inside.
“On offense, you can always do things to hide your holes or cover your weaknesses,” Pearson said. “On defense, though, all of your weaknesses are exposed and taken advantage of. At one point last season, we were playing ten sophomores on defense. Those kids battled as hard as they could but weren’t quite ready for what the Northeast 8 had to offer. They’ve had a great off-season in the weight room. I know they’re hungry to have a chance to build on what was started last season. It’s a group that loves playing ball, cares about each other and has a lot of pride in Girard. I’m excited to see them continue to grow.”
2020 Northeast 8 Standings
South Range – 6-0 (9-1)
Poland – 5-1 (7-2)
Hubbard – 4-2 (5-3)
Niles – 4-2 (5-4)
Girard – 2-4 (4-6)
Struthers – 2-4 (2-5)
Jefferson – 1-5 (3-7)
Lakeview – 0-6 (1-7)