FRISCO, Texas – Pleasant Grove football coach Josh Gibson has a lot of respect for the Iowa Park Hawks.
Gibson’s Hawks play Iowa Park (9-5) Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Ford Center at The Star. Pleasant Grove (12-2) is the defending 4A Division II state champions, hoping to get back to the title game next week at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The other semifinal features Cuero and Silsbee.
“The more I see Iowa Park on video, the better I think they are,” said Gibson. “They play as sound as anybody we’re going to play this year. Iowa Park is well coached, and the kids play tough and physical. They lost five of their first six games because they had nine kids out at one time. When they got them back they’ve won eight in a row, just like us.
“It’s going to be a competitive football game, a physical game, with two really good football teams. We’ve had really good focus and a great week of practice.”
Gibson stands in awe of his team’s growth and development this season after losing 11 college athletes to graduation. Senior guard Brock Bingham was the only returner in the offensive line. He enjoyed his best game of the season last week against Pittsburg.
Pleasant Grove’s coach boasts juniors Connor Stanfill, Jamie Lewis and Landon Whatlington have performed admirably this fall.
Gibson got a bonus when he hired Kevin Reaves as an assistant coach. His son, senior Bladen Reaves, rarely steps off the field, playing linebacker and fullback.
“I think we have the best blocking fullback I’ve seen in high school in Bladen,” said Gibson. “During the regular season he had one carry and caught one pass, but he’s our best blocker out of everybody. Bladen Reaves is special. He plays every down on defense, and 90 percent on offense.”
Iowa Park blessed with talented players
Iowa Park has its share of standouts, too.
Junior quarterback Trent Green was brilliant in his team’s win over Glen Rose last week. He’s got two good receivers in junior Slayton Ochoa and sophomore Cirby Coheley. All three of those players will probably see action on both sides of the ball.
The same can be said for tight end/defensive end Wyatt Edwards, and lineman Jeremiah Stanley.
Iowa Park is hoping its Cinderella season continues, while a young, hard-working Pleasant Grove team is trying to make history.
A 3A Division I semifinal between Malakoff and Brock kicks off at 4 p.m. in the Ford Center prior to the Pleasant Grove game.