Suitland senior quarterback Chris Gibson no longer makes it a point to get the mail that arrives at his District Heights home each day, at least not like he used to when the season began more than two months ago.
"I used to run right to the mailbox after school and see if something was there for me," Gibson said. "But I stopped doing that a few weeks ago. I realized that there will be something waiting for me if I do what I have to do."
The immediate goal is to lead eighth-ranked Suitland (8-1) to the first Maryland 4A title in school history. The 6-foot-1, 186-pound Gibson has as many as three games left to prove he can play in college. That's how much time he has to show college recruiters he is among the new breed of quarterback -- a player who can amass as many yards passing the football as he can when he tucks it under his arm and runs.
"Chris puts us in position to win games," Suitland Coach Nick Lynch said. "He can throw the ball all over the field, and if nothing's there, he can run with it. And he's not looking to get out of bounds. He's ready to drop his shoulder on you if he has to."
Gibson's play since transferring from Central last spring has helped restore the swagger to Suitland, which made the playoffs for the first time since 1999 after sharing the County 4A league title with Parkdale. Gibson has thrown for 1,431 yards, 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions to lead the Rams to the 4A South Region title -- its first since 1998 -- and first-round home game against Parkdale at 1 p.m. Saturday.
"This is what our team has worked for since the offseason," Gibson said. "To be able to make the playoffs makes all the hours in the weight room during the offseason, all the three-a-day practices [in August] and just all the work you put in worth it."
Gibson's arrival from Central -- where he was the county's top passer last season, throwing for 1,634 yards -- has given an added dimension to the Rams' traditional, run-oriented offense.
"He's a player who can help us beat a team by throwing the football, and we haven't had a quarterback like him since I've been here," Lynch said. "He puts his teammates in position to make plays, and that's what you ask your quarterback to do."
Suitland's transformation this season after the Rams went a collective 11-8 the previous two seasons occurred during a 20-19 victory at Largo on Sept. 20. Trailing 19-14 and facing a fourth and 11, Gibson hooked up with senior Deyon Williams for a 51-yard gain with less than three minutes remaining. The Rams scored four plays later for the victory.
"That was the play when I knew Chris was a quarterback capable of leading us to a state championship," Lynch said. "The composure he showed on that play by staying in the pocket and waiting for it to develop instead of just getting rid of the ball is composure that you don't see in a lot of high school quarterbacks."