Still leaders of the PAC, Gibson Southern has unfinished business entering playoffs
- Final: Gibson Southern 35, Boonville 8
FORT BRANCH, Ind. — Gibson Southern didn't celebrate much following its regular-season finale victory over Boonville.
With their helmets in hand, the Titans sang their fight song in front of their home crowd and student section as normal. Then they made a beeline near the endzone and huddled around coach Nick Hart for the postgame speech.
The Titans clinched their fourth consecutive Pocket Athletic Conference Big School Division title after defeating the Pioneers 35-8 Friday evening at Jewell Field. After previously winning three straight conference titles from 2015-17, this marks the first time in program history they've completed a four-peat. And with the win, they are a perfect 23-0 against their division opponents, including the postseason, since the divisions were established in 2020.
But Gibson Southern has much bigger goals in mind than regular season honors. It's ready for its "second season," which is the IHSAA tournament. After winning the Class 3A state championship in 2021, last year ended with an upset loss to Owen Valley in the sectional semifinals — their only loss all season.
The Titans felt like they looked too far ahead. They will avoid doing so this time around.
"Our whole offseason was just focused on what we left on the table last year," senior quarterback Tanner Boyd said. "We just feel like this year we have something to prove."
The Class 3A No. 6 Titans (7-2) want to complete their unfinished business. Their first order is taking care of Mount Vernon next week back at Jewell Field.
"We definitely learned some things (against Boonville) that we'll get better going into the week," senior running back Sean DeLong said. "Football is a sport where you focus on the week ahead. We've played Mount Vernon once, and they're going to get better this week, and we're going to get better. It's going to be a good game.
The Titans felt Friday's victory has also further shaped them going into the playoffs.
Boyd was in a groove in the first half against Boonville (5-4), going 8 for 13 passing for 73 yards and a touchdown while adding 21 rushing yards on seven carries. But he was injured before halftime and did not play for the rest of the game.
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Sophomore Zach Foster replaced Boyd under center and finished with a pair of touchdowns of his own. One was a 15-yard run up the middle at the start of the second half to stretch Gibson Southern's lead by 20.
After not playing freshman football and starting at safety last season, this was the first time Foster played meaningful quarterback snaps since eighth grade. Hart commended his efforts.
"Zach performed great," Hart said. "He's done a great job of working the reps he gets and making sure he knows what's going on. I thought he stepped in and played tremendous."
"Coming in and not playing quarterback all year and stepping up like that is phenomenal," Boyd added. "He did his part and did everything he needed to do to win us that game."
Boyd and his fellow seniors are embracing the end of their time in Gibson Southern's program. They've gone 38-8 in their high school careers, won a state title as sophomores and haven't experienced a home loss in over three years.
This group wants to continue writing their own chapter of success. The second season starts now.
"It's a great group," Hart said. "More importantly than that, they're great kids and great members of our community. They've done a great job at setting the tone for this team with the work they've put into it and how much they've cared. Those guys are super important to our program."
Courier & Press sports reporter Treasure Washington can be reached via her email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and on X, formerly known as Twitter, @Twashington490.