Team # 9 Gateway (7) 0-0
Written by: Josh Funk on Thursday, August 25th, 2011
Speaking in terms of recent seasons, Gateway is coming off a somewhat un-Gateway-like 6-5 record, just the second time since 2006 Terry Smith’s Gators have posted a season with five or more losses. Recall the 2006 season, when a younger Gateway team went 6-5 overall, and then rattled off three straight seasons with records of 11-2, 12-1 and 12-1. That 35-4 run turned into one of the best three-year spurts in program history. Gateway’s young 2010 team did catch fire the second half of the season and win a WPIAL AAAA playoff game against Erie McDowell and went toe-to-toe with a tough Central Catholic team in the quarterfinals, falling 10-0.
The Gators return several key contributors and also boast some rising seniors and underclassmen, but suffered a major blow when one of the team’s seniors-to-be, linebacker Darrell Turner, was tragically killed by a gunman in Durham, N.C. over the summer months. Turner would have been a two-year starter at linebacker for Gateway and was coming off of a junior season in which he posted 67 tackles, a half a sack and a forced fumble and had been receiving some Division-1 interest. It marks the second straight season Gateway will be without the services of a key senior leader on defense.
What Gateway does have returning are its three leading rushers from last season – Darin Franklin (151 rush, 868 yds, 10 TD), Thomas Woodson (118, 469, 5) and Graham Davis (35, 290, 3). Woodson handled the reins of Gateway’s spread offense, connecting on 93-of-202 passes (46 percent) for 1,362 yards and 12 touchdowns. His top two returning targets are Brian Jones and Devante Butler (combined 25 rec., 358 yds, 3 TD).
Defensively, Cody Conway (28 tackles, 4 sacks) is a key returning presence. The Gators will also be aided by the contributions of rising juniors Jaymar Parrish and R.J. Hughes and rising seniors Avery Anderson and Derrick Maultsby. Gateway appeared to be poised to add the services of former Peabody running back and linebacker Jaylen Coleman, but the potential Division-1 prospect, who holds a double-digit number of offers, was kicked off the team at the start of camp.
Follow WesternPAFootball.com on Twitter @WPAFootball