The Girard High School football team is winning the long game.
The 2018 Indians feature several four-year starters that were part of the 2015 Girard team that won two games.
That group has joined the state’s best, advancing to the Division IV state final with Saturday’s 53-48 win against Newark Licking Valley in Crater Stadium.
Nick Malito caught the go-ahead touchdown pass from Mark Waid with 1:44 left to play.
“This is what we’ve been working for all these years. We’ve all been together since sixth grade working hard and playing together,” Girard two-way lineman Jack DelGarbino said. “We’ve become closer as the years go on.
“We’re not just a team. We’re a family.”
Girard advances to play Cincinnati Wyoming on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Girard’s 2018 seniors have experienced everything and a 14-point halftime did nothing to faze the Indians.
“We’re used to being underdogs, we had that with East and Perry,” Girard wideout and defensive back Aiden Warga said. “Perry scored on their first three possessions [and we came back].
“We can come back from anything,” Warga said. “After Week 2, we really connected as a team. We connected with each other and became more of a family.”
Trailing 34-20 at the midway point, the Indians (13-1) marched down the field and Waid capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.
The All-American Conference is an OHSAA-sanctioned league, created in 2008 as the result of the merger between the Trumbull Athletic Conference and the Metro Athletic Conference in Ohio. The league has 21 different member schools, with 17 sports offered throughout fall, winter and spring sports seasons.