ST. PETERSBURG — Grousing and winless six weeks ago, Gibbs entered Friday night as one of the hottest teams in the county.
And this strangely determined team continued its remarkable turnaround with a resounding 41-13 victory over previously unbeaten St. Petersburg in a Class 5A, District 9 game.
The Gladiators (3-3, 1-0), who lost their first three games, are now at the .500 mark for the first time this season. More importantly, they have an edge toward gaining a spot in the playoffs after knocking off the team favored to win the district.
"The good thing is we keep improving each week," Gibbs first-year coach Donnie Abraham said. "The kids are starting to believe in what we're doing. This was the biggest win so far."
If the Gladiators' season has been one long U-Turn, then consider quarterback Josh Rembert as the player who gave the steering wheel a jerk.
Through the first three games, Rembert still was learning the nuances of the coaching staff's spread offense.
"But Josh has really been picking it up and getting better," Abraham said.
Friday night, Rembert put it all together, completing 13 of 18 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns.
Rembert's favorite target early on was Mike Kendricks. The two hooked up for touchdown passes of 11 and 12 yards to give Gibbs a 14-0 lead. Kendricks also added an 8-yard run for a score. The extra point failed, and the Gladiators went into halftime ahead 20-0.
In the third quarter, Emmanuel Stewart had a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 27-0.
The Green Devils (5-1, 1-1) rallied in the fourth quarter on David Jones' 16-yard run for a score.
Then Rembert threw his third touchdown of the night, a 24-yard pass to Perry Joseph.
"We just made too many mistakes early and that cost us," St. Petersburg coach Joe Fabrizio said.