Penn Hills has been here before. For years the Indians were not only the biggest school in the WPIAL, but in the entire state as well. They have enjoyed success at the highest level. The program has fallen on hard times recently and they replaced legendary head coach Neil Gordon with longtime assistant Ron Graham. The Indians have their swagger back and Gateway head coach Terry Smith thinks having a new coach makes his job tougher.
“When you have a new coach you just never know what they will do,” Smith said. “A new coach usually means new systems and philosophies. You don’t know what they will do in certain situations, where you may have been able to have an idea in the past. So you’re not sure what to prepare for.”
One thing is certain though, Smith will have his Gators ready for war. The one time WPIAL powerhouse fell on hard times before Smith was brought back to resurrect the program. Now the Gators are always a force and you expect them to contend for a WPIAL Championship. Let’s take a closer look at some of the D-I prospects we’ll see on Friday night in Monroeville, Pa.
Gateway: The Gators feature two of the Top 100 players in the nation according to Scout.com in five-star linebacker Dorian Bell and four-star cornerback Corey Brown. Both are headed to Ohio State. Another Big Ten commit to keep an eye on will be offensive tackle Colin Rodkey who is headed to Indiana. The two unsung heroes for Gateway could be seniors Jeff Parrish at safety and Brian Williams who is one of the most electrifying return specialists in the state. An underclassman that we will be keeping our eye on will be linebacker Delbert Tyler. The Gators are led by junior quarterback Rob Kalkstein who will begin his third season as the staring quarterback. The wildcard on defense for the Gators could be Miami (Ohio) commit B.J. Stevens.
Penn Hills: The Indians will be a led by by Scout.com No. 3 rated middle linebacker Dan Mason who is favoring Pittsburgh over Penn State, Boston College and West Virginia. Dontae Brown is a big target who could present problems for the Gators as could class of 2010 stud wide receiver Brandon Ifill. Two other wildcards for the Indians will be the talented running back tandem of Teddy Blakeman and Chris Darby. The Indians also feature a veteran quarterback Tom Fulton. Fulton is in his third season as the teams quarterback.
Antimarino Stadium will be jam packed for this epic battle. It is hard to say that there is a lot riding on the first game of the season, but this game could show us who the dominant force will be in Class AAAA in the Western half of the state.
Scout.com Prediction: Gateway by 12