Waid has been one of Girard’s greats

HOWLAND — One trophy down, one to go for Mark Waid.

The unprecedented season and career of Waid, the Girard Indians record-setting quarterback, won’t culminate until Saturday in the Division IV state championship game, but it’s already being honored.

The 6-foot-3 senior was named the Richard Alberini Trumbull County Player of the Year at the 44th annual banquet held Monday at Leo’s Risorante by the Trumbull County Coaches Association.

Waid narrowly edged McDonald star running back Alex Cintron for the award, becoming the fifth Girard player to earn the distinction.

“This is what I’ve always dreamed about,” said Waid of winning the award and playing for a state title. “I’ve had people tell me that it was impossible for me to do. I’ve had people tell me that I wasn’t going to be able to play at this level, I wasn’t going to be able to be a quarterback. I’ve always had doubters.

“My coaching staff at Girard, my teammates at Girard, my brothers, the really rallied around me and accepted me. We’ve been working for this moment (of playing for a state title) for our entire high school careers.”

Laughed at and kicked around as a freshman and sophomore, with Girard posting a combined 5-15 record, Waid has helped take the Indians (13-1) to new heights as an upperclassmen.

Girard won the first regional title in school history with a 43-18 victory over Hubbard on Nov. 17 and followed that up with a 53-48 come-from-behind victory over Licking Valley in the state semifinal. The Indians play Cincinnati Wyoming at 8 p.m. Saturday for the state title.

Waid, a Fordham University recruit, is the main reason why. The dual-threat QB has virtually every passing record at a school that has produced some of the area’s elite signal-callers. This season alone he has completed 256-of-380 passes (67 percent) for an incredible 4,182 yards, 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has also run for 1,744 yards and 26 TDs on 212 carries.

The numbers are a result of a work ethic that is as impressive as coach Pat Pearson has seen.

“It’s nuts,” Pearson said of Waid’s dedication. “He and this group of skill kids, I’m talking three days a week, whether we have to turn the lights at 6 a.m. and open up the gym, or kick the lights on the field. It could be snowing out, and they’re running routes, they’re throwing balls. We’ve got to kick them out of the gym at night. All through the summer and even before practice, they are on the field a half-hour early before practice even starts, and they work — even today, same thing. And on Friday nights, they make it look easy.”

The first-team All-Ohio selection and Northeast Inland District Player of the Year, Waid has received countless accolades. Still, he constantly deflects praise to his teammates and coaches.

A humble star, Waid refuses to take credit for the Indians’ success. He instead points out a talented receiving corps, a big, powerful offensive line and an unheralded running game and defense. It’s one of the many leadership skills he exhibits.

“We’re a family at Girard,” he said. “We’re not individuals. We are a family. We play for each other, and we rely on each other. If we motivate each other and we count on each other, that motivates us to do better and the whole entire team rises to the occasion.”

His unselfish nature also makes Girard’s offense even harder to defend.

Simply focusing on Waid won’t slow them down because the QB is just as happy passing to a receiver or handing the ball off as he is doing it himself. That, along with his dual-threat capability, allows Pearson and the Indians’ coaching staff to wreak havoc on opponents.

“People have to make a choice how to defend us and how to defend him,” Pearson said. “When they choose to defend the pass, then Mark puts his head down and goes. When they choose to defend the run, then Mark gets the ball to our athletes in space, and they go. It’s really him being unselfish, and whatever it takes for us to be successful is what he does.”

Despite all his gaudy stats and leadership skills, Cintron’s season was nearly as impressive, as he ran for 2,040 yards and 32 TDs in 12 games, making Waid’s win a close one.

That’s OK with Waid, who also showed respect to the other 16 nominees in his speech to the crowd.

A win is a win, and he just wants one more in his high school career.

“This is what we’ve dreamed about and this is what we’ve worked for,” Waid said. “To finally get to this game and to finally showcase ourselves and put everything out there for this one moment, it’s an incredible feeling. I’m getting amped up talking about it today.”