It's been said that early childhood helps prepare a man for the rest of his life. This truth has been relevant for Bowman Academy junior linebacker Malcolm Gibbs.
With five brothers and two sisters living in the same home, he played backyard football with his older brothers. They were all 6-feet tall and big.
Gibbs is 5-foot-7, 160 pounds.
So when Bowman (6-5) hosts Rensselaer (9-2) at a field yet to be determined in the Class 2A Sectional 33 championship game, Gibbs will be reliving his childhood, in a way.
"My brothers used to beat me up when I was little," Gibbs said. "But that was all right. It made me tougher. I'm sure it helped me become the player I am today."
Gibbs leads Bowman with 100 tackles. He also has four sacks and two interceptions. He played a big part in Friday's 28-21 comeback win over Boone Grove.
The Eagles, who are playing in the school's first sectional championship game, have played the Bombers in the last two sectionals. They've allowed 108 points in the two games.
"We can't worry about all of that right now," Gibbs said. "No. 1, our defense needs to stop their running game. If we can stop their run then we can beat them. It's something I think we can do."
Bowman coach David Nelson said that Gibbs has played four-star football in the postseason. Gibbs had 17 tackles against River Forest and 15 against the Wolves. He'll need the same kind of numbers against the Bombers.
"Malcolm has a nose for the ball and a high football IQ," Nelson said. "He's been playing for a long time. He's a feisty kid."
Nelson said he is reminding his players about this historical run, trying to let the Eagles know they are making history at their school. Going up against a program like Rensselaer will be tough, but Nelson expects his team to close the gap.
"They're a tough, physical, well-coached, disciplined team," Nelson said. "We can't make the mistakes we've been making. Our defense is the key. We need to try and keep the game close so we have a chance in the end."