Lowering the boom

The Baltimore Sun

At 5 feet 11 and 185 pounds, Joe Gibson is undersized for a lineman, but that hasn't kept him from battling players nearly twice his weight as Franklin improved to 5-2 with Saturday's 35-0 victory at Parkville. The senior has seven tackles and two assists this season at defensive end, although he mostly plays offensive guard and also punts. Gibson, who wrestles and has played baseball for the Indians, wants to play football in college. He is looking at the Merchant Marine Academy, the Coast Guard Academy and several northern maritime academies. He has a 3.0 grade-point average and plans to become a pilot. Gibson, 17, wants to travel more after going to Europe in 2007 with the World Club at Franklin.

Have you always been a lineman?

No, not always. I played every position on the football team. In rec league, I played quarterback, running back, linebacker. My freshman year, I played fullback-linebacker. Then, ever since, I've been line.

How did you end up there?

I can block.

How big are some of the guys you're going up against?

Some of them are about my size, and then, bigger. No one's ever smaller.

What's the biggest guy you've ever faced?

360 pounds.

How do you compensate for not being 360 pounds, or even 250, when you line up against these big, big guys?

You just got to be lower than them, stay low and block them out.

What assets do you have as a smaller lineman that a big guy doesn't have?

I'm definitely quicker than most of the other linemen, so I can move around them and I can get off the ball faster, so I can push them around a little bit while they're a little bit off-balance.

Talk a little bit about the importance of cohesion within the line.

Our whole line, we're a team and we have to work together the whole time. We don't really sub in and out the linemen. You usually sub in and out the running backs because they'll get tired or something. You sub in and out a lineman and it gets all out of whack, so we might not block right. The line is the whole play. If you don't block right, the ball won't get out of the backfield.

What's it like in the trenches when that ball is snapped?

A bunch of guys play dirty, but you've just got to keep your head and play the game. I've gotten stepped on tons of times by kids that are huge. But you've got to get up and keep playing. You can't show them you're hurt.

Is upsetting Perry Hall, 45-41, two weeks ago the highlight of the season?

So far, yes, but it will not be the highlight of the whole season.

How do you go about a career in aviation if you go to a maritime academy?

Most of them have a flight program after school that you can go into. If I go to one of the maritime academies, I'll be working on either a cruise ship or a freighter where you're six months on, six months off, so I'd have time to get my pilot's license.

What type of aircraft do you want to fly?

Mostly commercial or private airlines.

How did you get interested in that?

My aunt flies for United.

What other activities are you involved in?

I'm in the chorus. I actually made the All-County chorus for Baltimore County. I'm in chamber singers this year, too.

How did you get interested in music?

I started out in chorus ninth-grade year, and I just kept going. I got pretty good at it. I've played piano and guitar since I was little, so I've always been interested in music.

Do you ever get harassed by the guys for being the singing lineman?

No. Never. We used to have a bunch of guys from the football team in the chorus, some of the seniors who graduated a couple years ago.

What do you enjoy about being involved in two such different activities, football and chorus?

Diversity. Something to do. It keeps you open to different experiences.

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