A record year: Gibson earns most passing yards in a season
Following a 28-25 win over Dakota State (S.D.) on Saturday, Oct. 28, the Dickinson State football team had a lot to celebrate. The Blue Hawks earned their third consecutive title as North Star Athletic Association champs and clinched a spot in th...
Following a 28-25 win over Dakota State (S.D.) on Saturday, Oct. 28, the Dickinson State football team had a lot to celebrate. The Blue Hawks earned their third consecutive title as North Star Athletic Association champs and clinched a spot in the NAIA playoffs.
For sophomore quarterback Hayden Gibson, there was something else to be proud of.
With his 192 passing yards on the day, he brought his total to 2,247, breaking the school record for passing yards in a single season.
"All the records are meant to be broken," quarterback coach Nick Walker said. "When you have them broken by a special kid like Hayden, who's a good football player and a good kid, it makes it even more special."
Walker, who is in his second season of coaching at DSU, previously held the record of 2,086 passing yards, which he threw as Blue Hawk quarterback in 2002.
"I had no idea he had the record here," Gibson said. "I knew he was a great football player. Coach is always talking about how good he was. It really is a compliment to him and the way he coaches me. He is hard on me but it's all out of love. He came up to me after the game and gave me a big hug. We won conference and that was an awesome feeling."
Gibson has started all nine games for the Blue Hawks this season, although he hasn't played the full length of every game.
Last season, as a freshman, he appeared in eight games and threw 847 yards in the air.
If Gibson continues to average 249.7 yards per game, he will nearly triple that number following the final game in the 2017 regular season.
Based on current records in the NSAA, Gibson's current passing yards would earn him fourth place overall in the conference record book, just shy of Presentation College's Austin Eggl who threw 2,260 in 2015.
"He spends a lot of time at his craft, getting better, watching film," Walker said. "He worked diligently this summer. We threw a lot this summer. He's done a great job. I couldn't be more proud of him and all the work that he's put in."
While a few teams have pressured Dickinson State to rely more on a passing game, Walker said Gibson gaining confidence in his ability to pass at the college level has helped bring his yardage up so drastically.
"He's reading things quicker," Walker said. "He's hitting windows that we didn't hit last year because he's reading things quicker and the ball is coming out of his hands."
Gibson only earns passing yards for every completed pass, meaning the receivers, as well as the offensive line, play integral roles in Gibson's record-breaking performance.
"He'll tell you himself," senior wide receiver Seth Ewoniuk said. "It's ten guys, not just him. He has to have great protection, receivers have to run good routes. It's definitely a team effort."
Ewoniuk leads the Blue Hawks with 547 receiving yards, but he's one of 14 players with at least one reception this season.
"A lot of these teams have one or two guys that they go to," Gibson said. "But I feel comfortable throwing to six, seven, eight guys at any point of the game so it's a real compliment to those guys. They work their butts off everyday and every snap they run their routes the way they should."
While he said he's only focusing on the next game right now, Gibson said he believes he can keep improving and break his own record next season as a junior.
"It's a real honor to come out with these guys and practice everyday," Gibson said. "These guys are great. The coaching staff is great. Coming to work with these guys makes it easy to come here and go to work."