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Hard work pays off for Gibson

Lincolnton quarterback Zack Gibson had big dreams entering his fourth year as the Wolves’ signal-caller. So far, those dreams are being realized.
With back-to-back wins over South Point and Maiden and pin-point accuracy throwing the ball, Gibson’s senior season couldn’t have started much better.
“It feels good. This is what I dreamed for winning three in a row, playing the way I’m playing, the team playing well, the receivers catching the ball,” he said.
While Gibson attended several quarterback camps over the summer, the most poignant moment came at Virginia Tech at a Nike Combine.
The 6’2” 185-pound QB saw a cornerback from Florida who had a 45-inch vertical and ran a 4.18 40. That’s when he knew it was time to get better.
“I saw the way they (those athletes) were performing and I wasn’t quite up to par with them, so I started lifting hard, then I would go throw and watch films to see what I could do better this year,” he said.
To this point, his regimen has paid off. Through the Wolves’ first three games, he is 35-of-56 passing with 677 yards and seven touchdowns against just three interceptions.
Perhaps, the most telling game was his most recent one, lighting up the vaunted Blue Devils’ secondary to the tune of 17-of-29 passing, 295 yards and two touchdowns.
Before anyone thinks the quarterback is just out for his own headlines and accolades, he’s quick to point out he couldn’t do it without his receivers—a talent pool so deep seven different pass catchers had at least one reception against Maiden.
Last season, instead of praise, Lincolnton’s receivers drew the ire of coaches and fans alike for their inability to catch the football consistently—a problem Gibson believes was adequately addressed by head coach Scott Cloninger.
“In the off-season all coach (Cloninger) talked about was all the dropped balls last year. During the summer, I would go down and throw with all the skill-position players,” he said.
“It shows up, they’ve been working hard and I just put it up there and they go get it,” he added.
Demery Brewer, Shane Faw, T.J. Thompson, Mardriekus Mayfield, Jeremy Smith, Derek Butler and Demery Williams all have speed, hands and undeniable talent—a fact not missed by Gibson.
“We have people that can catch the ball great, have speed and they know how to get open. It’s as plain as that—that’s about all you can ask for as a quarterback,” he said.
Cloninger, in fact, feels his group of receivers is the deepest receiving corps he’s ever been associated with.
“They’re not the fastest group, but we can go seven deep. They bring speed, good route-running, but they also catch the ball well,” he said.
Gibson and the Wolves have another big showdown tonight as they host also-undefeated North Gaston. And after that? Lincolnton will pay a visit to former Midwest 2A foe, the Shelby Golden Lions.
Although Gibson didn’t say what all his off-season dreams entailed, you can be sure a Southern Piedmont title and state championship ring were part of it, but for now he’s just enjoying the ride.
“We always go one game at a time. Every week we have fun, we’re just enjoying our wins and looking for bigger and better things in the future,” he said.
All the extra work spent watching film to learn defensive coverages, recognize defensive backs’ tendencies and if a corner is aggressive or not has definitely been paying off.
Not to mention plenty of sweat in the weight room, has elevated Gibson’s play from above average to spectacular.
“He’s done exactly what a senior should do. He worked hard in the off-season, gained 15 pounds and has put himself in a position to have a good senior year,” Cloninger said.
“There’s nothing free in life anymore. You have to work for what you want and that’s what Zack did.
To this point, Wake Forest, Elon, Appalachian State and East Carolina have been recruiting Gibson’s services on the football field.
And although he’s also an all-conference basketball player, if it comes down to choosing—in his mind the decision has already been made.
“Don’t get me wrong, I like playing basketball, but football is my love.”

by John Mark Brooks

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