With radios blaring, Gibson City celebrates football history

With radios blaring, Gibson City celebrates football history

GIBSON CITY — After every win by the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley football team, the local American Legion likes to play Queen's "We Are The Champions."

Post 568 has had a lot of chances to play it this season, and Friday's 38-32 Class 2A state title win over Maroa-Forsyth brought some longtime fans to tears.

"It was the best game I've ever watched, probably because it was my hometown," said Sharon Collings, who grew up in Gibson City and used to be a cheerleader for the team.

"I about peed my pants. I was ecstatic," said Jodi Link, the legion's barroom manager.

The legion feeds the football team every Thursday night and is usually packed Friday nights as fans listen to longtime radio play-by-play announcer Gary McCullough call the games on WGCY 106.3-FM.

"We listen to Gary, and all we have is that little boombox," Link said. "We have for years."

For the first time this season, Friday's game was on TV. But to keep with tradition, they kept the TV's volume down while continuing to listen to the radio.

"Our radio was way ahead," so fans at the legion began celebrating a few seconds before the TV caught up with the final play.

Link said the team had some help from above, crediting longtime fan Roy Roemer, who died from cancer at the end of October.

"It was like 'Angels in the Outfield,' you know, how they helped. I think Roy was their angel in the outfield," she said. "I really think he was there. It was too back and forth."

The Falcons were down at the half, but Link said coach Mike Allen must have calmed down his team during the break.

"I think they got the jitters because they were at the big stadium, and they were fast-playing," she said. "I think he got them in the locker room, and he calmed them down."

Harry Groom of Gibson City stopped by the legion after the game and said he was impressed with the team's perseverance.

"I thought it was a great ball game. The true character of these young men came out. They never gave up," he said. "They played an outstanding game, a clean game and hard fought. It's just a good example of Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley sports."

Ryan Arsenault played for the football team when he was in high school and said he was nervous throughout the game.

"Absolutely nervous. It was up and down. It was a great game, almost NFL-like," he said. "Being a former Falcon, it was unbelievable."

Claudia Bedel's son played on the football team when he was in high school and made it to the semifinals, but they never won state. Friday's triumph is the first state title by any team at GCMS.

"This is a tribute to all these kids," Bedel said. "I was so pumped, I can't even begin to tell you. As a Falcon mom, I'm blessed."

At Burgers & Beer in downtown Gibson City, high schoolers Jacey Goin and Danielle Eckerty had to work Friday.

"Otherwise, we would've been there," said Goin, a senior. "We love our boys. We have very good friends on the team."

"It was the closest game we've had this year. I was a little nervous at the end," said Eckerty, a junior. "I'm happy for them."