2017 ETSN.fm East Texas Football Super Team Coach of the Year: Pleasant Grove’s Josh Gibson
Josh Gibson used to go to his dad, Vance, for coaching advice.
Vance, the coach at Frisco, has been a coach for 43 years. A self-described "coach watcher," Gibson had plenty of time to imbibe the lessons by watching his father and his step father, who was an athletic director for Sam Houston State for a period. He was an assistant coach and offensive coordinator at Frisco for nine years under his father.
"All I had to do my whole life was keep my eyes wide open and watch those guys," Gibson said.
He still leaned on his dad's advice in his couple of seasons at Pleasant Grove. As time went on, the roles began to change. Now it's Vance who calls his son to talk offensive schemes.
Gibson led Pleasant Grove to its first state championship in his fourth season at the helm in 2017. He is the ETSN.fm Coach of the Year.
Looking at the Hawks, one close to the Gibsons might see fingerprints of Vance's teams. It is no accident.
"The foundation for how we do things in our program is exactly how he runs his," Gibson said. "I feel like I shared (the championship) with him a lot. He came to our games and was a part of it. He's always been a great resource, but this year, more than anything, he was encouraging us."
Pleasant Grove wasn't pegged as a contender to begin the season. The Hawks quickly became one of the most surprising teams in East Texas. When they defeated Gilmer on Oct. 13 to hand the Buckeyes their first home loss since 2001, they made a statement.
Even after finishing the season unscathed and making the state title game, not many picked the Hawks to win. They were set to face West Orange Stark, the two-time defending state champion and owners of the longest active winning streak in Texas high school football at 40 games.
It was a no-brainer. A true David vs. Goliath. The Hawks controlled the game from the opening drive, winning, 41-21.
"Our kids always believed we had the opportunity to do this," Gibson said. "For us, it was more satisfying than anything. We tell the kids, 'You reap what you sew.' Just how much work they put into it and to see the whole journey come to an end and the goal to be achieved, I'm just so proud and thankful for them."
Gibson loses several key pieces from the championship team. Running back TJ Cole, linebacker and tight end Xavier Benson, running back Chauncey Martin, linebacker Caleb Porchia and receiver Carson Cox are among the names that will graduate in the spring.
However, a couple of impact players are back with quarterback Ben Harmon and defensive end Landon Jackson, ETSN.fm's Defensive Newcomer of the Year. To expect the same level of play with the pieces lost is probably unrealistic, but the Hawks certainly aren't going anywhere.
They're in the record books now.
"This team did everything the right way," Gibson said. "They worked harder than anybody I've ever been around. They treated each other better than any team I've been around. They were extremely confident. They knew we were gonna win state."