TEXARKANA, Tx (KMSS/KTAL) – Pleasant Grove football doesn’t rebuild.

They re-load.

“We started a little rough with the young team last year,” said head coach Josh Gibson. “But our guys stayed the course, really believed in each other, believed in the program.”

That belief paid off.

“We go four rounds deep with young kids that got that much extra experience. And now here they’re back after a stellar offseason and summer.”

The Hawks’ youth movement paid off last season. Now, the young Hawks return with plenty of big game experience that they hope can propel them back to AT&T Stadium.

“I’m real excited,” said junior quarterback/defensive back Ahkari Johnson. “I know we got a lot of dudes that are gonna step up this year. We can make a run this year.”

Ahkari Johnson picked up offers from Austin Peay, SMU and UTSA this off-season.

Johnson has extra motivation this fall after breaking his arm on the sixth play of the Hawks season opener against Nashville last season.

“You can tell he kinda feels like he missed out on a year and he’s trying to make up for it,” said Gibson.

“The injury, it kinda pushed me more in the weight room to get back to my strength,” said Johnson.

One of the biggest strengths this fall will be the Hawks defensive front. With Lance Jackson and UTSA commit Vic Shaw, offenses will have to slow down a pair that combined for over 100 tackles and nine sacks in 2021.

Victor Shaw committed to UTSA this summer, while also holding offers from Baylor, Nebraska and Colorado.

“I think our kids developed a ton of belief in (Vic),” said Gibson. “They selected him as our sole team captain.”

“I’ve just gained a confidence that’s just outmatched,” said Shaw. “I don’t think anyone will be able to touch me. Just me having that confidence and being able to bring it to my team is gonna be real good.”

And while the Hawks culture has them draw from their storied past, this group is ready to make their own mark in Pleasant Grove history.

“We don’t want to be compared to our older state champ teams,” said Shaw. “We are bringing everyone a new state champ team. It’s a new season, a new team, and new people. Don’t give up, cause we will surprise everybody.”

The Pleasant Grove Hawks start the season off against Brock on August 26.