Falcons' Nathan Garard is planning ahead

Falcons' Nathan Garard is planning ahead

GIBSON CITY — Nathan Garard has felt the pressure of playing in a state championship game.

The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley starting quarterback helped engineer the Falcons' run to a Class 2A state title last November.

Garard and the rest of his GCMS teammates may well get a chance to compete for another state title, with the Falcons carrying a 3-0 record into today's 7 p.m. Heart of Illinois Large home game against Fieldcrest (1-2) and having outscored their first three foes 126-12.

Yet Garard has bigger priorities in front of him once he graduates from GCMS next spring. Like serving his country.

"I'm in the process of applying to West Point right now," Garard said. "I've always wanted to be in the Army."

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior is off to a strong start in 2018. He's completed 19 of 34 passes for 377 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, orchestrating the Falcons' wing-T offense at an efficient clip.

"Nathan is very intelligent," GCMS coach Mike Allen said. "He's a very good leader. To have him at quarterback, that's a nice feeling."

Even before Garard assumed his starting quarterback role at GCMS prior to his junior season, he had his sights set on his possible future in the military.

"I started the application my sophomore year," Garard said. "I'm in the middle of getting a nomination from a U.S. congressman. I've done my essays and am getting through the medical process right now. Hopefully I'm a good contender for it. That's my No. 1 dream right now."

The dream started when Garard was in elementary school. It has only progressed throughout the years, culminating this summer.

"I spent a week out there at a summer leadership experience," Garard said. "I didn't want to leave, but they kick you out after a week. When I went out there, that's when I really knew for sure that this is what I want to do. It's a team environment. No one is an individual."

Much like what he has experienced during his career at GCMS, where he also contributed in basketball last winter and on the baseball diamond for the Falcons this past spring.

And with Garard starting under center, the Falcons are a combined 17-0. Tough tests still await the Falcons this month, with a trip to rival Fisher (3-0) lined up on Sept. 21 and a home game against Tri-Valley (1-2) on Sept. 28.

What's more pressure-packed, though, for Garard? Playing in a state title game or waiting until January or February when he finds out if his application is good enough to get him into West Point?

"Definitely what my future entails," Garard said. "It's a different kind of thing, but football prepares you equally for the years ahead."

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