Reflecting upon his senior season, where he netted 35 tackles for losses and 21 sacks in Ohio's largest classification, Pitt commit Deonte Gibson thought back to a practice earlier this year, when he thought there were other places he'd rather be.
"There were a couple practices; this one time where it was forty degrees and raining," Gibson said. "It rained the entire day, there was a strong wind, and we had to practice for three hours. I was soaking wet, and it was a hard practice. It was the worst I‘ve ever felt. Looking back now, I wouldn‘t take back that opportunity."
It was all part of a memorable journey, capped by a 35-28 win over Huber Heights Wayne on Saturday night. Gibson had two sacks in his team's win. He said the biggest thing since then, has been the volume of support from St. Edward alumni. Though the school has won numerous state titles in other sports, this marked the first state championship in football in the school's 61-year history.
"It's been nuts," Gibson said. "There are a lot of alums, they talk to us on Facebook. They're saying, ‘Thanks for getting the monkey off our backs, a lot of guys can sleep better now.' It's kind of crazy. It's a good feeling, and there's still much to celebrate. We got it done for everybody and ourselves, thanks to (head) coach (Rick) Finotti. He‘s probably the best coach in the nation, going from 4-6 to 15-0 in one season."
Going forward, Gibson's facing a similar situation, heading off to Pitt. Instead of getting a team its first-ever high school state championship, Gibson is being counted on to deliver a Big East championship, with the ultimate goal of a national championship. Gibson already feels there's lessons he learned this year, that he will bring with him to the collegiate level.
"Obviously, a lot of people say it's a giant step going from high school to college ball," Gibson said. "The one thing I've learned, is I've been on losing teams. (Last season) was my first losing season ever of playing sports. I saw what an off-season can do; going from 4-6 to 15-0. We saw how an off-season contributes to what you do later in the season. Off-season workouts, that's one of the most important things you can do."
Gibson said among the first to congratulate him was his chief recruiter from Pitt, and a fellow Ohio player in his recruiting class. He looks forward to his official visit at Pitt this weekend.
"I talked to (Justin) Olack, then (running backs) coach (David) Walker congratulated me," Gibson said. "I'm looking forward to seeing those guys this weekend; Quinton (Alston), (Marquise) Wright, Kyshoen (Jarrett). I haven't talked to (Gary) Nova yet. I think he's going down."