BRUNSWICK — They swear it’s just another game, but if you listen closely, tonight’s football contest between Brunswick and Euclid has a little more meaning to the Gibbons family.
Mike Gibbons, the defensive coordinator for the Blue Devils, will match wits with his brother Tom, the head coach for Euclid, to add some flair to an already exciting non-league game.
“It has been business as usual this week,” Brunswick coach Luke Beal said. “We haven’t made a big deal of the fact the brothers are playing each other.
“I’m sure both of them have that in the back of their mind, but it makes it fun. I’m sure the kids are aware of it and that adds a little more excitement to it.”
Actually, it adds a lot to the match-up.
The last time the two were pitted against each other, Mike was a fullback and linebacker on Mentor Lake Catholic’s Division III state championship team in 2001. Tom was the defensive coordinator for Euclid.
Lake Catholic came out on top in that season opener 35-0 and Mike has had nine years to gloat.
“It’s part of our family,” Tom Gibbons said. “Unfortunately, we’ve been in these situations before. Mike does an outstanding job. I know his tendencies and what he likes to do, and me being a defensive guy, he knows what I like to do. I’m sure we’ll both be rooting for our teams to win.”
Winning is part of a tradition- rich Gibbons family. Their father, John, was a coach for 15 years at Lake Catholic, nine more at St. Edward and another three at Bedford. With Highland coach Tom Lombardo as a brother-in-law to Mike and Tom, coaching match-ups like this have happened in the past.
But never with the two brothers.
Since taking over the lead role at Euclid, Tom, 40, has led the Panthers to the playoffs two straight years. Mike, 27, was the defensive coordinator for Highland, helping the 2008 team to the D-II regional finals and a playoff appearance in 2009 before coming to Brunswick.
While there hasn’t been any trash talking between the two this week and no side bets have been made, Mike has hinted a time or two that he wouldn’t mind keeping his perfect record against his brother intact.
“It’ll be fun,” Mike said. “He coaches the defensive side of the ball and will do a great job preparing his team. You have to have the mindset that we’re trying to play each game week by week. But obviously, I want to win.”
As much as they try to downplay today’s game, don’t think for a second the topic won’t come up during Thanksgiving dinner.
“I might mention it a few times,” Mike said. “But I’m sure he will too, if he wins.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.