School Spotlight: Pleasant Grove (Texarkana, TX)

Pleasant Grove High School is a public 4A classification by the University Interscholastic League. The powerhouse of Pleasant Grove is located up in the Northeast Texas corner called Texarkana, Texas. Under Coach Josh Gibson, the football team has made it to the playoffs every season. In the last six seasons, the Hawks have made deep playoff runs making it to thanksgiving weekend every year during that span. Pleasant Grove made it to the state championship game three years in a row (2017-2019), winning it all in 2017 and 2019. Coach Josh Gibson said, “I think we can have the best football team that we have had yet.” Not only are the Hawks great on the football field, but also in the classroom. The team was ranked in the top 5 schools in GPA this year. The culture set at this school is to be the best student athlete they can be in the state of Texas. The Hawk’s goal this year is to make a big impact on and off the field.

Head Coach Josh Gibson’s previous tenures included Granbury, Plano Sr. High, and Frisco before landing at Pleasant Grove. Coach Gibson will enter his ninth season coaching with one of the best coaching staffs in the state. One of the two defensive coordinators is Jonathan Darby. Darby, a TCU Graduate Assistant for Coach Gary Patterson before coming over to Pleasant Grove. The other defensive coordinator for the Hawks is Ty Taylor. Taylor, the Assistant Head Coach, has helped produced some of the best defensive lines in the state over the years. The offensive coordinator is Justin Gibson, brother of Coach Josh Gibson. Josh stated, “He’s loyal and installed the culture here.” The leader of the offensive line is Coach Larry Epstein. He is entering his third year at Pleasant Grove. A unique aspect about this coaching staff is, “its set up like a division one school,” said Coach Josh Gibson. Some of the coaches don’t teach classes, so they have the ability to focus on football all day.

Here are some of the returners for Pleasant Grove this upcoming season.

Jaylen Boardley is a 6’1 180 pound multi-sport athlete, that plays both sides of the football for the Hawks. On the offensive side, he is a very physical running back that has great hands out of the back field. On the defensive side, the Senior has the ability to fly sideline to sideline to make punishing tackles at linebacker. He currently holds offers from LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, and others.

Ahkhari Johnson is a 5’11 180 pound speedster that plays both sides of the football for Pleasant Grove. “He’s probably our most dynamic player on our team”- Coach Gibson. Johnson is very talented quarterback that with the ball in his hands can take it to the end zone at any given moment. A great mixture of his throwing ability and ball carrying vision will play a major role in his success at next level. On the defensive side, he is a ball hawking defensive back that helped lead the Hawks to a deep playoff run this past season. He currently holds offers from Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and others.

Caleb Hackleman is a 6’6 275 pound offensive lineman that can play multiple positions on the line. Hackleman is an explosive kid that showed dominance during the run, using his hovering size to open up holes for his teammates. He was named first team all-district as an offensive lineman for the Hawks this past season. He currently holds offers from Baylor, Texas Tech, Austin Peavy, and others.

Kaden McFadden is an athletic 5’11 185 pound safety who has caught the attention of many coaches on the recruiting trail recently. The multi-sport athlete has the ability to play at the next level in both football and baseball. McFadden has the homerun speed on offense, giving him the ability to turn any play into a touchdown. He is essentially a position-less player on defense, running all over the field making eye opening hits to his opponents at every opportunity. He currently holds offers from Tulane, Utah State, Duke, and others.

Lance Jackson is a massive 6’6 245 pound athlete that plays both sides of the football for the team. The class of 2025 prospect plays both tight end and defensive end very well. He has great hands and the ability to run after the catch on the offensive side. On the defensive side, he is a force that breaks through the line and disrupt any play in the backfield. His brother Landon, former Hawk, currently plays for Arkansas. He currently holds offers from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and others.