PG vs West Orange Stark State Championship-at Jerry’s House
What Pleasant Grove wants for Christmas is not a present that Santa can bring, it's something that they will have to earn.
They say if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. That is exactly what the Hawks hope to do when they take on two time defending champ, West Orange Stark at AT&T Cowboys Stadium, known as Jerry's House, after Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Before we talk about the 1st ever state championship game for the Hawks, we have to look back at last Thursday nights State Semi-Final wipe-out of Graham.
Once again throughout their playoff run, the PG defense was dominating. Coach Josh Gibson says its something they have been doing all season long, "We are playing extremely fast and physical...that's what separates us from the teams we've played. Our kids are flying around on a different level."
He adds that they are also playing very sound fundamental football, without coverage busts and the pressure the front 7 us putting on the opposing quarterback, along with great secondary coverage has been the difference.
Gibson adds, "We are having success because we have a great unit across the board, not because of one or two kiddos. Complete package on that side of the ball."
The offense was extremely efficient for the fourth straight playoff game wracking up a 28-0 halftime lead before finishing with 45 points on the scoreboard. The Hawks are once again playing fast and physical on that side of the ball. He says, "Our offensive line is extremely physical and knocking defenders off the ball. Our running backs are playing fast and physical as well."
Gibson has high praise for lineman Nick Gavriel, "He's playing at an extremely high level, getting pancake after pancake, and then playing a lot on the defensive line.
Gibson also mentioned T.J. Cole who has been a workhorse for the team and had a great game against Graham. Speaking of people who had a great outing against the Steers, look no further than Sophomore running back Bruce Garrett who Gibson says, "Had a break-out performance."
The Hawks barely through the ball at all,(did not have to due to their dominating running attack), but when they did it went for huge gains. Coach Gibson says, "Ben and Carson are special. Ben has made some great throws and Carson continues to dominate defensive backs. His touchdown catch was a one handed circus catch. He's made 3 of those the last two years...unbelievable big time plays."
Now it's on to the Championship Game against the two time defending champions, West Orange Stark. Coach Gibson summed up that team, "We are facing THE state powerhouse. They've won 40 straight games and have been to 4 straight championship games."
Gibson says they predominately a run team out of a spread formation. Defensively they are very familiar with the Wing T, which is what PG runs on offense. They are the only team according to the coach who has beaten Kennedale, which also runs the Wing T, and is playing in the Division I championship. He says as a whole West Orange Stark is talented and very fast.
Injury wise, the Hawks come into the final game of the season likely to be close to 100% healthy. Coach Gibson believes both Tyler Kelly and Ryan Pickleman, who were shaken up in the game against Graham, will be fine for the game on Friday.
The Hawks, who have played in "The Star" at Frisco, twice this post-season, will move up to play in AT&T Cowboys Stadium in Arlington this Friday at 3PM. Coach Gibson talks about "Jerry's House". "The venue is amazing. It's one of the nicest professional stadiums for any sport. We are blessed to play on the BIG Stage."
But you know this is something that Coach Gibson has been preparing his team for since he first stepped foot in the athletic department at Pleasant Grove. Over four years ago now, Gibson arrived and immediately all the way down to summer football camps for incoming 7th graders, began talking about what it would take to make it to state and win it all. That seemed a little far-fetched at the time for a program that had seen a few lean years to say the least prior to his arrival.
Let's be honest it was pretty low as they previous three teams had won something like a total of five games in those seasons. Just trying to get to .500 or better seemed like a goal, but Gibson would have none of that. Credit him on delivering on what he promised would happen if the players, coaches, and community bought in too what he was preaching, and they did, and now look what has happened.
For his part Gibson is very humble about it all, saying, "I've been counting my blessings, I cannot begin to convey how BLESSED I am and how proud I am. I'm extremely proud of our team and coaches, We put a plan together and EVERYONE from the top down has bought in since day one. Heart and Soul is what we've asked for, and we've all put our HEART & SOULS into each other and this program. You reap what you sow, and look where we are. It's been amazing."
The coach is also very thankful for community support, "It's been special to see Texarkana and East Texas get behind our program. This week is going to be a great experience for all of our kids and community. The stadium, the game, playing on Fox Sports Southwest. Buckle up, be safe and come out and support your HAWKS."
We concur with the coach and ask all Texarkana and area school and sports supporters to show up at Cowboys stadium this Friday afternoon and support these Hawks who are trying to complete a perfect 16-0 season with a State Championship.
Can David beat Goliath? Well the Hawks have already put several "Demons" away, finally beating Gilmer and Celina, who's going to tell them, they can't beat the Giant.
While this is the first State Championship game for PG, they are certainly not coming in as a Cinderella, this team has spent 4 years improving to this point and has been dominating opponents all season.
The Hawks should be able to at least match West Orange Stark's speed and physicality. It should be an exciting hard fought game and we are infinitely proud of this team, it's coaching staff and everyone involved with the program, no matter what happens on Friday that will not change one bit.
Also before we wrap up this PG Story, credit for a year of great support and effort should be mentioned to the PG Training staff, led by Stephanie Scott, the Cheerleading squad, the Showstoppers dance team, and the band and flag core. These guys and girls work extremely hard all year to perform and support athletics at PG, and are awesome, just like the football team.
We "Believe" in this team, we think they will be successful in their bid to "Upset" the Giants from Southeast Texas.
HAWK NATION, it's time to show up loud and proud one more time!!!!!!