OHIO CITY, Oh - Senior defensive end Eugene Gibbons will continue his academic and football career at Hillsdale College as he has committed to becoming a Charger. Gibbons was a key piece on the Saint Ignatius defense and earned a starting role in his senior season. He joins a Hillsdale program that competes in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference at the Division II level.
"I went to their camp in June and saw the campus. I got to meet the coaches and players and get a feel for the program," says Gibbons. "They run a four-front defensive line, but the defensive scheme is similar to the one here at Saint Ignatius and I think that will benefit me."
In Gibbons' junior season in 2021, he rotated in with a talented defensive line that featured Peter Chalhoub '21 and Tommy Wasinski '21. "Having that season helped prepare me for what was to come. As seniors, they showed me how to play the game correctly," Gibbons explains. "I became close friends with the senior defensive line from last year and that helped me become a starter and be a leader on the line."
"He stepped up and provided a ton of leadership," says Associate Head Coach Ryan Franzinger '02. "Eugene solidified the defense in many ways and was a great partner with Will Robinson on the other side of the line. There were multiple games that he made his presence known."
The biggest game that Gibbons made his presence known was at River Rouge (MI) in his senior year. The senior edge rusher collected six sacks in the 21-14 grind-it-out win against the Panthers on the road. "I think it took me some time to get used to the game speed, but after the game against River Rouge, I felt much more confident," says Gibbons. "That game helped prepare me for the gauntlet of games against St. Edward, Moeller and St. Xavier."
Gibbons was reliable throughout the 2022 season, which saw the Cats finish the year 8-4. Gibbons was the fifth leading tackler on the Wildcat defense with 38. He led the defense in tackles for loss with 12. Gibbons was the sack leader with eight on the Wildcat defense.
"His hard work and dedication are what makes Eugene a special player. As a coach, you notice players who practice hard and Eugene was one of those guys," explains Franzinger. "I'm happy that he has the opportunity to play at the next level."
Gibbons' athletic career at Saint Ignatius is still ongoing, as he is a member of the Wrestling Cats during the winter. "A big part of being a defensive lineman is using your hands and wrestling is about 90% hand fighting," says Gibbons. "Being able to understand how to use my hands and knowing what works to get by offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage was important. The technique in form tackling was a crucial part of my development."
Gibbons demonstrated what it takes to start on the football field for Saint Ignatius and his hard work has paid off as he will continue at Hillsdale College in the fall.