Like puppies getting their bellies rubbed, the undefeated, state champion Pleasant Grove Hawks spent Tuesday basking in the glow of success.

It was National Signing Day and 10 Hawk athletes – eight in football, one in baseball and one in golf, accept scholarships that will allow them to continue their playing careers while receiving an education, something that happens for fewer than four percent of high school athletes.

Hawk Signees

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Xavier Benson, Texas Tech
TJ Cole, Ouachita Baptist
Carson Cox, Wichita State
Drake Fowler, Arkansas Tech
Nick Gavriel, Arkansas Tech
Chauncey Martin, Texas AM Commerce
Caleb Porchia, Ouachita Baptist
Austin Toler, Harding
Braxton Watkins, Houston
Cameron Wells, Southern Nazarene

In the afternoon, Pleasant Grove was recognized as one of the top 50 teams in the nation in a trophy presentation from the Army National Guard as part of the 13th Annual MaxPreps Tour of Champions.

To help commemorate the occasion, U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe sent the school a flag that flew over the Capitol Building. Texarkana, Texas, Mayor Bob Bruggeman presented official city pins to coach Josh Gibson and championship game MVP’s T.J. Cole and Caleb Porchia.

All of it, according to Gibson, was deserved. It was earned during four years of self-discipline, dedication, and desire.

“This is the hardest working team I have ever been around,” said Gibson, noting that not a single player was suspended for disciplinary reasons, nor did any player ever ask him for more playing time or for more opportunities to touch the ball.

“This is the most together team I have been around,” he said. “It was always about the success of the team first.”

Pleasant Grove fans contributed. Gibson recalled that late in the championship game at AT&T Stadium, quarterbacks coach Riley Fincher suggested he turn around and look at the stands.

Throughout the game, the coaches faced the West Orange-Stark side, and it was well populated. That happens when a team makes four straight championship games and wins the second two during a 40-game win streak.

Gibson looked back. He was confronted with a larger, and louder, crowd.

“You turn around and you look at Hawk Nation and we have the first level filled up, and we have the second level filled up, and we have the third level filled up,” he said. “That was amazing.”

Gibson reminded his players that they made history.

“Ten years from now, we’ll be back to celebrate. Twenty-five years from now and 50 years from now those of us still kicking will be back,” he said. “This team will never be forgotten. It’s the best team in Pleasant Grove history, the best in the state, and one of the best in the nation.”

Hawk Nation gives the undefeated state champions one last standing ovation.
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A veteran journalist and educator, Bill Owney is a 1980 graduate of the University of Florida. Writing awards include APME honors for investigative reporting, the Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Award for public service reporting and numerous awards for editorial, column and news writing. He served as publisher of the Atlanta Citizens Journal and Pittsburg Gazette when each paper won sweepstakes awards from the Texas Press and North and East Texas Press Associations. He spent 15 years as a public school teacher and is an adjunct professor of English at Texarkana College.


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