He’s the shooting guard with impeccable form, can’t miss fundamentals and a flair for scoring in big moments. He’s the all-time basketball scoring leader in the state of New York, solidifying him as a big-time recruit and paving the way to scholarship offers from the likes of Duke, Michigan, Syracuse and plenty of the nation’s other major powers.
In other words, Joe Girard III has no business risking his health and future on a football field. Yet there he was on Saturday afternoon, in helmet and pads for Glens Falls, leading the team as its starting quarterback in a 43-14 victory against Schuylerville.
If there was any question that Girard can ball on the football field, too, consider this: Glens Falls scored six touchdowns in its season-opening victory. All six were created by Girard; two on the ground and four through the air.
“He’s so dangerous the way he extends plays,” Glen Falls football coach Pat Lilac told the Glens Falls Post Star after the win. “He had two or three plays where they had him penned in, the play was dead and he ran for a first down and extended drives.”
The quarterback finished with 38 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries and 278 yards and four touchdowns through the air on an impressive 10-of-14 passes.
Equally impressive was Girard’s performance on defense (yes, he plays both ways). The versatile star lined up as a safety, and while he was allegedly taken deep for a touchdown in the first quarter, he bounced back to help stymie an expected dangerous Schuylerville attack.
No matter how passionate Girard is about football, it’s doubtless that his collegiate future lays on the hardwood. He’s a 6-foot-1, 180-pound dual threat quarterback competing in a a small division in a state that isn’t known for its football prowess.While there have been great quarterbacks to emerge from precisely such surroundings, they are the exception, not the rule.
Of course, there is one former New York state prep legend who could eventually point the way toward a collegiate football future for Girard post-basketball.
Greg Paulus was among the top quarterback prospects in the nation in the Class of 2004 out of Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse. He held football scholarship offers from the likes of Notre Dame and Miami and basketball offers from Duke, Syracuse, Georgetown and North Carolina, among others.
In the end, he opted for Duke … first. He spent four years as the Blue Devils’ point guard, and while he was the requisite Mike Krzyzewski reliable floor leader, he never developed into a true NBA prospect.
That led him to graduate and then spend a postgraduate year back at Syracuse, where he served as the quarterback of the Orange for the 2009 season.
Neither sport worked out professionally for Paulus, but he has carved out a career as an assistant basketball coach (he was previously at Navy, Ohio State and Louisville and now works for George Washington). And he’s a New York state legend.
If that sounds like a possible path forward for Girard, well, the talent and scholarship offers (for basketball) are already there. If he can keep tearing up the football field as he did in Week 1, the sky is the limit.