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New Bulldog coach Gibbs excited about Sikeston's future

Sunday, March 11, 2007

(Photo)
New Sikeston football coach Kent Gibbs
SIKESTON -- If the Sikeston Bulldog football team is to get back local dominance it displayed for years, new head coach Kent Gibbs said it will start in the weight room.

Gibbs was hired to replace Jerry Dement as Sikeston's new coach in February and he brings with him new philosophies and a new attitude.

Gibbs will be taking over a Sikeston program that has not had a winning season since 2002 and hasn't reached the state playoffs since 1995. The Bulldogs have gone a combined 6-24 the last three seasons, including 2-8 this past season.

Gibbs, who is employed as Fredericktown's principal until the end of the current school year, said he plans on meeting with his players and assistant coaches for the first time tomorrow to go over his summer plans with the team.

"I think the first thing you do is you have to establish the things that you believe in," said Gibbs. "First of all we need to get in the weight room. We need to get ourselves where we can be competitive and I think that starts with a good work ethic in the weight room.

"I think it's important for the kids to understand what we expect of them. We're going to try to map out how we're going to do things. We're going to start out by finishing strong in their spring sports, making their grades and then understanding that we've got to get ready to go this summer. We want to get people excited about football."

But even Gibbs knows the best way to get people excited about football is to do just one thing -- win.

"When you start talking about goals for the program, I think every year your goal is to win a district championship," said Gibbs. "To do that there's certain things you've got to do along the way. I'm a big believer that you're going to play the way you practice and hopefully you'll practice the way you play. What we do on the practice field will determine whether or not we put ourselves in a position to be competitive in our games, be competitive every week, and ultimately win our district. That's kind of how we get started."

Gibbs' offensively philosophy traditionally consists of a ground-oriented, ball-control attack with enough passes to keep defenses honest. But he says each year and each game will be different.

"We're going to be more of a running team than a passing team," said Gibbs. "Now, if some games we need to throw it 20 or 25 times to put our kids in a position to win, we're going to do that. We'll start out and run a base of a two-back set on offense and we'll do things depending on what our personnel dictates and what the defense dictates to us."

Gibbs says he also wants to establish strong special teams play, which is an area the Bulldogs have struggled the past few seasons.

"I really strongly believe that one of the things that is sometimes overlooked by the average fan is the play of your special teams," said Gibbs. "We're going to spend a lot of time on special teams and be strong in that area. I want a football team that is fundamentally sound that doesn't beat itself and takes advantage of things that are given to it."

Gibbs, 49, is a 1975 Jackson High School graduate where he played under longtime head coach Paul Webber.

He attended Southeast Missouri State University where he competed on the wrestling team. After finishing at SEMO, Gibbs was hired at Hayti where he spent six seasons, including four as the head coach.

In his third year as the head coach he led the Indians to the Class 2A state championship game at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium where they dropped a nail-biter 8-7 to Knob Noster in 1984. The Indians' 10-4 record was Hayti's first winning season in 10 years.

Gibbs stayed one more year at Hayti where he led them to a 7-2 mark before heading back to SEMO as a graduate assistant.

Gibbs then coached at East Prairie for one year before a four-year stop at Jackson where he served as the athletic director.

He then headed west to take over the Fredericktown football program for the next 13 years.

The Blackcats had never been known for their football success, but Gibbs developed the program into a respectable team on a consistent basis, including a 7-3 record this past fall.

He says even some of his losing seasons at Fredericktown were proud moments in his coaching career.

"Obviously I'm proud of the fact that at a relatively young age I was able to go to a state championship game, but some of the most memorable teams I've had were ones that didn't really do as well record-wise," said Gibbs. "My first year at Fredericktown we were 1-9 and my first year at Hayti we were 1-9, but we did really well with the other things. We laid the foundations to get both of those programs up to the next notch so to speak.

"A few years back here at Fredericktown we had back-to-back winning seasons which was the first time in like 19 years they had done that. I can't single one thing out that is a highlight, but it's truly a joy to be around kids and be around football."

When asked how long will it take to get the program to a championship level, Gibbs took a cautious approach. However, he is adamant that the Bulldogs have all the necessary tools to get back to its former dominance.

"Absolutely it can happen," said Gibbs. "That's one of the things that is so appealing to the football coaches in the area and why this job in itself is appealing. There's a lot of things that have to happen to get it going in the right direction. I've never been one to predict. I think if your talent level is even with everybody, then if you get better every week then you improve your chances to win your next ball game.

"I can't say we'll get it going in a year or two years. I don't think that's fair to the players we've got. We're going to get better every week and we're going to get better every day and we'll see where that takes us. We're in this thing to win. You can't apologize for wanting to win."