Expectations Are Sky High for Hawks Football This Season
To say expectations are a little high for Pleasant Grove Football this year, might be an understatement.
The Hawks, who are coming off a deep playoff run last year, boast a team loaded with Senior talent this season. The Hawks played after Thanksgiving narrowly falling to highly ranked Celina. A bunch of starters from that team return and PG Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Josh Gibson is pumped and excited about the challenge ahead saying, " There is a lot of carryover and belief in these young men."
The 2017 edition will have 21 Seniors, 10 Juniors, 7 Sophomores, and 1 freshman on the Varsity squad. Gibson says the group is hard working and fun to be around. He adds the JV and 9th grade teams are, " Cut from the same cloth, awesome young men."
Taking a look at the offensive side of the ball, the Hawks will once again be running the Wing T. and impressive Sophomore Ben Harmon has taken over at Quarterback. The hope is that the passing attack will be very strong and keep the other teams defense off balance.
Coach Gibson says they will start 5 Seniors on the offensive line, Nick Gavriel, Austin Toler, Zach Wrinkle, Hunter Druhan, and Drake Fowler. Gavriel, Toler, and Fowler are all 300+ and very physical.
Behind the line, T.J. Cole who is extremely athletic and strong (465 squat) will be starting Fullback. Josh Roberts who averaged almost 8 yards per carry last year will return at Wingback. Chauncy Martin, Bruce Garrett and Luke Harmon will see time in the backfield as well.
Gibson believes they have the most athletic group yet at Wide Receiver. Cameron Wells is a 3 year varsity receiver, along with Carson Cox and Aaron Harmon who are both 6' 2" tall. At Tight End there is 200 pound 6' 3" Xavier Benson who has committed to play D1 College Football at Texas Tech University.
On the defensive side of the ball the Hawks will run a 3-4 defense, which means three down Defensive Lineman, and four Linebackers. Gibson says, " Our motto on defense is PLAY FAST & PLAY PHYSICAL."
Xavier Benson, is one of the best Linebackers in the Hawks district, and he is also joined by Caleb Porchia, a 1st team returning All-District LB, who Gibson describes as a ball "HAWK."
Austin Toler and Drake Fowler are both returning 1st Team All-District Lineman. Chauncy Martin and Tyler Allen are 3 year starters at the Safety positions. Cameron Wells, Aaron Harmon, and Tyler Kelley will see time at the corners.
Special teams, are just that "SPECIAL" at PG. The Hawks put a lot of time into that aspect of the game and it shows. Place kicking will be handled by Dillon Williams and Jared Glover. Punters will be Glover and Ben Harmon. A very important part of the kicking game is the Deep Snapper, and Reece Foster will be the man there.
Coach Gibson says he is helped by a quality staff, " I love the men and women I coach with, we have great people on our staff that are great role models for our kids."
Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator- Justin Gibson
Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line- Brandon Easterly
Quarter Backs & Wide Receivers- Riley Fincher
Running Backs- Justin Manton
Offensive Line- Kris Nichols
Tight Ends & Offensive Line- Blake Thomas
Linebackers- Steve Morris
Linebackers & JV Head Coach- Blake Worley
Defensive Backs- Andy Allen
Defensive Backs- Dwight McCown
Linebackers & 9th Grade Coach- Wacey Forga
Middle School Football- Paul Phillips
Head Athletic Trainer- Stephanie Scott
The road to greatness this year of course won't be easy, with the Hawks facing another very tough schedule, for a team that Dave Campbells magazine said last year was the 5th hardest in the entire state.
This year the Hawks start at home against their new in town rival, Arkansas High Razorbacks, followed by other non-district games against Paris, Frisco, Krum, and another in town rival, Liberty-Eylau.
The district is made up of, Gilmer, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Spring Hill, & Gladewater. Even though the schedule is once again grueling Coach Gibson believes it will pay dividends later in the season, saying, " We definitely believe iron sharpens iron. Our non-district schedule will prepare us for the toughest district in the state. We will be well prepared to compete against anyone in the state come playoff time due to the fact that we will already have played 7 state ranked teams."
Coach Gibson sums his feelings up this way, " I believe 2017 will be a special season. We have the hardest working and most dedicated kids that I've coached in 17 years. I want our players and coaches to grow as much as possible and give our community a team to be proud of. I want our kids to have an experience that they will never forget."
Last year we described the Pleasant Grove football team as a family, that had each others backs. Well that family is reuniting for what everyone hopes and believes will be another long playoff run.
While we will have to wait and see if that materializes, let's just say we won't be surprised at all if the PG Football family is once again eating turkey and playing football after Thanksgiving.
One thing for sure, is it's going to be an interesting and fun ride. PG fans are ready to show up and support their Hawks as far as this journey will take them.