Gibbs key cog in Highlander football team

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff

   Some players are measured not only by their individual talents, but for how much they help their team. Such is the case for Jonathan Gibbs as his contributions this season for the Highlanders may not be all-state material, but simply put, he's a player.
   Gibbs has played utility man this season for Coach Mike Lunsford and his staff, filling in where help was needed and doing a good job in each case.
   Primarily listed as a wide receiver and safety, Gibbs has made a large impact from his cornerback spot, recording four interceptions on the season, taking one back for a 35-yard touchdown.
   Lunsford is excited about Gibbs and his play this season.
   "I'm very pleased, he's been a pleasant surprise for us this year," said Lunsford. "I felt he would be good, but he has been consistently solid for us."
   Defensively, the poise that Gibbs has brought to the 'Lander secondary this season was desperately needed on Roan Mountain.
   "We were struggling on defense early this season," said Lunsford. "He gave us confidence, and helped our secondary to trust one another."
   Jonathan's contributions have not been limited to the defensive side of the football, however, as the solid senior has been a rock on offense as well.
   From his wideout position, Gibbs has given 'Lander quarterbacks a solid target to throw to this season, and has performed admirably in other areas.
   In the leadership department, Gibbs simply keeps his mouth shut, and does his job.
   "He's not a vocal kid," said Lunsford. "He is the kind of kid who you like to have playing for you."
   Jonathan spoke about the 'Landers defensive improvement this season, attributing the results to old-fashioned hard work.
   "We have worked more on our defensive drills," said Gibbs. "I don't believe teams can run the ball on us very well, so we have to play well in the secondary."
   That confidence is the result of a very solid defensive line and linebacking corps that the 'Landers have fielded this season. Thanks to Gibbs and his comrades in the defensive backfield, the lone question marks on defense have been answered.
   Looking forward to the remainder of the 2001 campaign, Gibbs is just looking to play his best and help his team to new levels.
   "I have just tried to play hard," said Gibbs. "Hopefully if we continue to play well, we can get past the third round of the playoffs."
   That third-round victory would be the first in Highlander history, and with the continued efforts of the improved Cloudland defense, that goal may well be in reach.
   This week Gibbs and his cohorts will welcome the Hampton Bulldogs to Orr Field in the rematch of an early-season matchup.