Quarterback Torrance Gibson had his helmet jarred loose on the opening drive of Friday’s Class 5A state final and then had another player land on him without it.
Gibson came out for one play.
The brief moment it took for Gibson to get his bearings didn’t slow him or Plantation American Heritage from repeating as state champions following a 38-0 rout of Tallahassee Godby in the Citrus Bowl.
“Somebody got me with their foot and all I remember seeing was white and then someone tapped me,” said Gibson, an Ohio State commitment. “My whole mindset was to get back in there and get my team the victory. The first championship was a great feeling and this one is even better.”
American Heritage (12-3) became the second Broward County team to win back-to-back state championships, joining Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (2007-08).
The Patriots also joined Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna (2003) as the only Broward teams to shut out an opponent in a state championship game.
“We’re respected now,” American Heritage coach Mike Rumph said. “My goal coming in as the coach two years ago was to put this program on the same level as a St. Thomas Aquinas or a Miramar. This is exactly where we wanted to be.”
American Heritage’s defense surrendered only nine first downs, 179 total yards and Deonta Fair and Marco Wilson each had interceptions as the Patriots shut down the Cougars (12-3).
“We’re all so physical on this defense,” Fair said. “We came out strong and our goal was to get three 3-and-outs to let our offense win the game and we did.”
Gibson said the victory was made even more special since his father was in attendance. Gibson got emotional during postgame interviews with the media, saying his father had never seen him play in person before Friday’s game.
“Words can’t describe this man, in my last high school game,” Gibson said. “Seeing my dad out here means the world to me.”
Gibson threw two touchdown passes and totaled 138 yards on 7 of 15 attempts with one interception. He also ran for a touchdown on a 1-yard quarterback sneak in the third quarter.
Statistically, the star of the game and one of the reasons American Heritage may not be finished winning state titles was sophomore running back Kyshaun Bryan.
Highlighted by a 93-yard touchdown run in the first minute of the third quarter, Bryan totaled 156 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
Bryan could have had more, but midway through the third quarter, he re-aggravated a left high ankle sprain that limited his playing time through most of the regular season.
“This is the future of this school,” shouted American Heritage defensive back Tarvarus McFadden as he snuck up behind Bryan during a postgame interview.
Bryan (5-11, 190) did most of his damage in the postseason, rushing for 316 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ previous two postseason wins.
From its opening drive, American Heritage’s offensive line handled a Godby defensive line that included three FBS commits – 6-3, 205-pound left end Tim Faison (Purdue), 6-4, 300-pound junior right tackle Cedric Wood (FSU) and 6-2, 220-pound senior right end Danny Thomas (South Florida).
The Patriots totaled 300 yards rushing and 443 overall and scored on six of eight drives not counting two possessions in which they ran out the clock to end the half and the game.
“We had to prove something and we wanted the back-to-back badly,” Bryan said. “We have a great team and we have an opportunity to win two more in a row. That’s going to be our goal.”