Posted by Mike London

mike.london@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – size is cool and speed is cool, but universal versatility is the ingredient that makes Salisbury’s undefeated soccer team very special.

One of the most versatile guys on a team as flexible as a yoga teacher is Jayden Gibson, who quietly goes about his business each week as he prepares for multiple roles in attack, defense, and specialty teams.

“Whatever the team needs this week, I’d like to give it,” said the 5-foot, 9-pound, 160-pound senior. “It is good to be able to help in many ways.”

He helps the hornets.

There was a touchdown catch against Polk County.

There was a pick-six against East Rowan.

There was a return from the inaugural kickoff for a touchdown to start the frenzy against South Rowan.

“It’s three different ways he’s scored so far,” said Salisbury head coach Brian Hinson with a chuckle. “Maybe we should let him run the ball a few times.”

Gibson actually played a bit of running back in the opening game against Polk County, but he’s mostly a receiver, defensive back and return man. His time at DB is not necessarily in one place. He’s comfortable in cornerback or security.

“Last year I started as safety, but I was able to switch to the corner in the middle of the season,” said Gibson. “Whatever it takes.”

Speed ​​is almost everywhere, and Gibson has it. His PR is 11.4 over 100 meters. North Rowan’s Amari McArthur knocked him under 100 at the Rowan County Championships last spring, but it was close. Both were clocked in 11.64 seconds.

“It’s amazing how fast Amari can run for such a tall guy,” said Gibson. “I like the track and have been at track meetings since I was 7 years old. I’ve always been one of the fastest in my school. “

Gibson comes from an athletic family.

Big brother Eric Gibson played for Salisbury and North Rowan and was a solid linebacker for Catawba. Jayden’s twin sister, Jaleiah, who is a minute older, is a star on Salisbury’s girls’ basketball team. She’s not a great goalscorer, but her defense and rebound have helped make the Hornets one of the top tier programs in 2A. Her role on the basketball team is very similar to that of her brother on the soccer team. She does whatever it takes to win.

“I think Jayden is one of those guys on our team who doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he’s a very good player,” said Hinson. “He was one of our outstanding players in the (49:21) win over Thomasville. They’re a running team, but he got in there and made five tackles, one of which was a touchdown saver. He was stable in the wide angle, blocked well on the perimeter. “

Thomasville is talented, but not as deep as Salisbury. The Bulldogs actually led 8-7 at a time, but then it was 42-8 after Salisbury unleashed a combined whirlwind of offense, defense and special teams.

“We went into the game believing it was going to be a challenge and it really was,” Gibson said. “Thomasville was good. It was back and forth for a while, but then they got tired. “

There’s no doubt about Gibson’s favorite game of the season. That was the kickoff return to start against South Rowan.

“I felt really good going into this game and then I saw the whistle come my way,” Gibson said. “I wanted to try to run up and catch it, but then I made it bounce. The thing is, it took a terrible leap. I had to go over and pick up the ball, but then I picked up and everyone blocked. Deuce Walker made a great block for me and I took it 90 yards. “

The Pick-Six was fun too. He saw it coming under duress with the quarterback, and once he got the ball in his hands it felt like he was running through a tunnel on his own.

The Salisbury defense is obviously stellar. Thomasville’s 21 points were misleading as two touchdowns came late after Salisbury’s reserves were lost.

Salisbury, which ranks second on 2A West by MaxPreps and in the state of 24.

“We had a great defense last year, we lost good players and we still have a great defense,” said Gibson. “We have some beasts. I think we’re at least as good as last year and we’re probably even closer. We have fun hanging out off the field together. Many of our families are very close friends. “

The remodeled Central Carolina Conference is no longer the dangerous minefield it has been in previous seasons, and it is entirely possible that Salisbury will not face another serious confrontation until after the regular season against North Rowan is over.

Gibson, who is hoping to compete in athletics and / or soccer in college, understands what that means. The Hornets (4-0) have to find ways to stay sharp even if they don’t see a team in the top 200 for a month.

“We’ll keep working and practicing hard,” Gibson said. “We have to get better every day”