Spotlight on: Gateway Gators
Hometown: Monroeville, Pennsylvania
Group: PA AAAA
By Andre Coles
The Gateway Gators refuse to settle for anything less than a state championship in 2008. After coming within one point of the title game last season, this year’s squad is poised to finish the task.
The Gators continue to use last year’s second place finish against state champ Pittsburgh Central Catholic as motivation in every game this campaign.
Meanwhile, in a recent interview with Michael Love of YourSouthHills.com, head coach Terry Smith echoed those sentiments and explained his team’s passion for a championship this season.
“The kids are focused on it right now. This is an experienced group who is working hard. Having that bad taste in their mouth makes them work even harder.”
As a result, the ‘08 squad has been leaving a bad taste in the mouths of every opponent so far this season. The Gators are already off to a 6-0 start and have outscored opponents 278-38.
The Gators' success this season has been no fluke either, as the squad has a more than capable leader in Smith, along with a talented cast of players that carry out his philosophies and passion on the field.
Smith, who is a former Gator and Penn State University receiver himself, has never endured a losing season at Gateway. Overall, in his seven years at the helm, Smith is 59-18.
And leading with his experience as a coach and a player, Smith feels like this season’s squad might be his best in some time.
In an interview with Dave Mackall of the Tribune-Review, Smith said, “Potentially, this is the best team. There’s a lot of talent and a lot of valuable experience here. And we work hard.”
Smith’s message is certainly saying a lot for a program that has sent over 45 student-athletes to compete collegiately since he took over in ‘02, including this year’s group of impressive seniors of which four have already made Div. I commitments.
Big name seniors Dorian Bell and Corey Brown have already committed to Ohio State University, while Colin Rodkey and B.J. Stevens have chosen Indiana University and Miami of Ohio, respectively.
These players provide the experience and leadership Smith speaks of.
“The returning starters are leading by example and leading verbally. They’re doing everything we’ve asked of them.”
With that being said, as the second-ranked team in Pennsylvania according to FootballPower’s most recent poll, the Gators will face their toughest challenge of the season this upcoming week.
For the first time in its history, Gateway will face a formidable Trojans squad of Erie McDowell High (State PR: 69.90, Rank: 37).
As long as the Gators continue to use last year’s loss in the WPIAL championship as motivation, while continuing to follow Smith’s lead and ride their experienced and big name seniors, this squad should be wearing medals around their necks when the season comes to a close.
Next up: October 10 at Erie McDowell.
Check out the Gateway Gators own team Website here!