Sidney Gibbs runs away with Rookie of the Week honors in CIAA

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News
Black Mountain native Sidney Gibbs earned Rookie of the Week honors in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association for his 127-yard performance against Edward Waters College on Sept. 28.

Throughout his high school football career at Owen and Christ School, opponents learned that stopping Black Mountain native Sidney Gibbs was no easy task. 

Halfway through his freshman season for the Shaw University Bears, the running back’s foes in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association are quickly finding out the same thing. 

It took Gibbs four weeks to record his first 100-yard game for the Bears, which came in a 49-10 victory over Edward Waters College, Sept. 28. His performance earned him Food Lion Rookie of the Week honors in the CIAA. 

Gibbs carried the ball 16 times for 127 yards against the Tigers, including a 31-yard carry that tied his longest run of the season. The effort came a week after he posted his first 2-touchdown game as a Bear. 

Gibbs started his collegiate career on Sept. 7, picking up 82 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries against Campbell University. Five games into his freshman season, the Bears starter has 364 yards on 71 carries. 

“I’m still not playing as well as I know I can play,” Gibbs said two days before his team was scheduled to play Virginia State on Oct. 5. “I’m just getting started, really, and I want to keep getting better. I know I can do a lot more.”

Western North Carolina opponents know better than anyone what Gibbs is capable of. 

He burst onto the high school football scene with 1,750 yards and 19 touchdowns on 193 carries as a sophomore for Owen in 2015, before a knee injury forced him to miss his junior season. Gibbs transferred to Christ School and reclassified as a sophomore and returned to action as a junior in 2017. 

Gibbs led Christ School to an 8-2 record and appearance in the state championship, picking up 2,029 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on 143 carries. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark in every game in which he appeared for the Greenies, but his high school career was cut short by another devastating knee injury his senior year. 

He was grateful to receive an opportunity to play for Shaw, and announced his commitment to the college in Raleigh in November of 2018. 

Gibbs entered his first training camp with the Bears unsure of his role on the roster. 

“We didn’t know who the starter would be,” he said. “We have a lot of talent in our backfield and camp was tough, but I came in everyday and went as hard as I could. The coaches worked with me on holding onto the ball and being patient and allowing the holes to develop. I found out the week before our first game that I’d be starting.”

Earning the starting nod let Gibbs know he was on the right track. 

“I knew I had to just keep doing what I’d been doing,” he said. “I felt blessed that the coaches trusted me with the job, and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to keep getting better.”

Gibbs averaged nearly 6 yards per carry through his first two games. His 2 touchdowns against Chowan on Sept. 21 helped lead Shaw to a win in double overtime. 

While he was honored to be recognized for his performance against Edward Waters, he still has work to do, Gibbs said. 

“I try not to pay too much attention to awards and accolades,” he said. “For me, the biggest thing is consistency, so I want to keep on the path that I’m on right now. I measure my performance on whether or not I’m helping my team win.”

The Bears are 2-3 at the midpoint of the 2019 season.

“Coach tells us to take it one game at a time,” he said. “If something bad happens, we have to keep playing and if something good happens we got to keep playing. If we show up every week and do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll be successful as a team.”