As scores came in from across Texas on Friday night, there was one in East Texas that made everyone in the state take notice: Texarkana Pleasant Grove 41, Gilmer 38. Not only was it the first district win of the year for Pleasant Grove, it was also the first time that Gilmer had lost a home district game since 2001.
Those outside East Texas see the game as an impressive win over a state power the Hawks but that’s not how head coach Josh Gibson sees it. The fourth-year head coach sees that win as the culmination of the hard work his players have put since the end of his first season.
“We played Gilmer in the first round of the playoffs in our first season and they just demolished us,” Gibson said, “After that game, they became our measuring stick and we wanted to accomplish the same things they did.”
That hard work has led the Hawks to get off to one of their best starts in school history at 6-0. They’ve already matched their win total from each of the past three-seasons and Gibson sensed how special the win over Gilmer meant for his program and the community.
“We’re off to a great start this season and this game was huge for our kids,” Gibson said, “After the game, I just told them how proud of them I was. And anytime you have a win like this, you share it with the people in your lives and with the community because they’re all part of it as well.”
Gibson credits senior leadership as a big factor as to why’ve they’ve had plenty of early success. Wide receiver Carson Cox was the team’s quarterback his sophomore season. Running back Chauncey Martin rushed for over 220 yards in the Hawks win. Even outside linebacker and Texas Tech commit Xavier Benson saw action both ways in that game.
Those are just a few examples of a class that Gibson credits for being unselfish and tight-knit.
“We put a formula together and their job was to buy in and believe and that’s what they’ve done,” Gibson said, “I’ve never been around a group of seniors in my career that has bought in more than these guys. They wanted to close this gap with the best in the state and they’ve done everything they’ve needed to as senior leaders. They’re an awesome group.”
Moving forward, the Hawks now to turn their attention to the rest of District 12-4A DII. Gibson knows there is still work to be done, but is looking forward to seeing where the program can go the rest of the season.
“After the Gilmer win, I told the kids to enjoy it but I’ve told them that we’ve got to come out ready to go,” Gibson said, “We’re looking to continue to grow and the only way we can do that is by continuing to grind and work. I’m confident our kids will do that.”
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