The school has named Athletic Director Cole Sigmon as interim head football coach until the vacancy is filled.
The last time Lincolnton had a losing record before last year's 6-7 finish was 2006. That year, the Wolves, coached by Scott Cloninger, finished 5-7, a year after they had made a trip to the state championship game only to lose there. The next year, they won the state 2A championship.
When Gibson took over after Cloninger resigned following the 2014 season, he inherited a lot of very talented players. A 12-3 record in 2015 was eclipsed by a 13-2 record in 2016 when they got to the Western Region 2AA championship before losing to Reidsville, the team that won the state championship that year. Last year, the Wolves posted a 6-7 record. This year, Gibson had only seven returning starters: three on offense and four on defense.
His coaching prowess nearly won the game with North Gaston, a team that had run up big scores in three earlier games, when he had his defense key on two players who were responsible for most of the Wildcats' scoring. A late touchdown followed by a two-point conversion that some said was a lateral but was likely a fumble picked up by a North Gaston player and run into the end zone gave the Wildcats an 8-7 win over the Wolves.
LHS also gave West Lincoln much more of a contest than man had expected, losing 20-14, and didn't get run out of the stadium as some had said they would against North Lincoln, losing by a 36-26 score. The defense played well against Maiden, but the Wolves' biggest problem all season long was their offense, and they couldn't score on the Blue Devils, losing 13-0.
In our opinion, Gibson caught some good breaks early and some bad ones more recently. In his second year as head coach at LHS, he got help from Sage Surratt's transfer from East Lincoln. The last couple of years, the breaks went the other way.
Many, many years ago, I played high school football at Stanley High School. Dick Thompson was the head coach there for many years before and after my high school days. Back in the 1950s he had some great teams. In the early 1960s, we were pretty bad. Some of the town folk wanted a new coach and many spoke unkindly about him. A few years later, he got some players who could actually play football. They won a state championship, and if I remember correctly, the people of Stanley bought him a car. Coaches can make a difference--but sometimes poor seasons aren't entirely the coach's fault.
Former LHS coach Scott Cloninger said of Gibson, "he's well-respected in the coaching community." For anyone who might be thinking Cloninger will return, he told us he'd be helping out at Lincolnton Middle School next year, not at LHS.
Ledford Gibson is a very good defensive coach. He's also a good man, and a good influence on the players he coaches. We sincerely hope that he will continue to be involved in coaching football at some level.
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