Gibson City's soaring high alongside its Falcons

Gibson City's soaring high alongside its Falcons

GIBSON CITY — The decorations are up along Sangamon Avenue — a sure sign that the football team in town is doing big things.

"Let's go red!" "We (heart) our boys!" And, of course, "Go Falcons!"

Ahead of what's being billed as the biggest sporting event of them all in the Ford County town of 3,378, its main street has turned into a sea of red and black.

With one more win, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley will advance to its first state championship football game.

"I just really think it's important for the kids of our community to know that adults and businesses are in support of them, especially in today's age," said Vicki Rhodes, co-owner of New And Again Resale. "Win or lose, we've got to be there for these kids. Fortunately, it's winning right now."

In Sterling Newman, Saturday's 2 p.m. Class 2A state semifinal opponent at Falcon Field, GCMS faces a stiff test. The 12-0 Comets have won a pair of state titles this decade, in 2010 and 2013.

Not that any of that is deterring the Falcon faithful from showing their school spirit.

A unique type of support comes from the town's American Legion Post 568, run by commander Steve Anderson. His outfit has held steak sandwich dinners for the GCMS football program every Thursday during the season for the last six or seven years.

"We've got so much support, it's not even funny," Anderson said. "That football team and everybody I've been associated with has been the most kind, well-mannered children, always saying thank you. They'll come up and shake your hand at the end of the dinner."

Amy Hood, co-owner of the local Ace Hardware, has Falcon shirts and flags available for sale, in addition to sporting paint on the store's windows. She said she and her husband, co-owner Jim, have let GCMS cheerleaders decorate their business' facade for years.

"We have about four high schoolers that work for us part time after school and on the weekends, (so) we think it's very important (to back the athletes)," Amy Hood said. "We call them the youth of America. They will be our future someday, so having us be supportive and show them that we're behind them is very important."

Marty Nuss, who owns Insurance Providers Group, has seen many of the current players grow from a young age, with his own son now a GCMS junior. This team, coached by Mike Allen, has felt like it was capable of a season like this long before it reached this point, Nuss said.

"This is a special kind of group of kids that have been coming through," Nuss said. "So we'd like to say we're surprised, but to a degree we're not. They're very talented."

Allen's athletes are well aware an entire town is right alongside them, during the regular season and extended playoff runs.

"We sometimes see how teams come to our place and don't bring too many people, but we travel really well," junior Nathan Garard said. "And that's just nice to see that."

So, what if the Falcons are able to win two more? Well, it's not a matter of if to everyone.

"You mean what's it going to mean to the community when we pull this off and win a state title?" Rhodes said, "It's going to be really great."