N.A., Gateway shaping up for Quad-A shootout
TribLIVE Sports Videos
North Allegheny and Gateway are the top-ranked and highest-scoring teams in WPIAL Class AAAA, and they feature two of the most prolific passers and game-breaking receivers.
If that doesn't promise to make their midseason matchup a shootout, Gateway coach Terry Smith will.
“We might look like West Virginia and Baylor this Friday night,” Smith said, referring to the Mountaineers' 70-63 Big 12 win Saturday. “Both offenses have the capability of putting up a lot of points and yards and moving the ball.”
History indicates otherwise. Their last meeting, in the WPIAL semifinals last fall, ended with North Allegheny pulling off a last-minute, 21-17 victory.
Which is why Tigers coach Art Walker expects the nonconference game to be a defensive struggle.
“I don't think it would come down to anything like a shootout like that,” Walker said. “Both defenses are very good, and both teams have too much talent on the field.”
This game involves two of the three remaining undefeated teams in Quad-A (Upper St. Clair is the other) and the preseason favorites to reach the WPIAL final at Heinz Field.
North Allegheny has decisive victories over Mt. Lebanon and Seneca Valley — both 4-1 — but Gateway has only played one opponent, Hempfield (3-2), with a winning record. The Gators are looking forward to their first challenge of the season.
“It's a great midseason test to see where you are, where you're deficient and proficient, so you can adjust coming down the stretch for the playoffs,” Smith said. “We're excited to play a meaningful game where we truly have to prepare and focus on 100 percent. It's a double-edged sword because it's only an exhibition game.”
The Gators are averaging 49 points per game and 24.7 yards per completion behind Arizona recruit Thomas Woodson, a dual-threat quarterback who has deep threats in junior wideouts Montae Nicholson, Delvon Randall and Ricky Rogers and tight ends Mileak Ford and Jaymar Parrish.
The two-time defending WPIAL champion Tigers, who have won 21 consecutive games against league foes, are scoring 43.2 points per game.
Stephen F. Austin recruit Mack Leftwich is completing 65 percent of his passes for 1,180 yards and has a talented trio of receivers in seniors Brendan Coniker and Gregg Garrity and junior Elijah Zeise.
“You're looking at arguably two of the best quarterbacks in the state going head to head,” Smith said. “Both are veterans, take on leadership, create identity on offense and make decisions at the line of scrimmage. The quarterback that makes the right play call, makes good decisions and protects the football, more than likely is going to be the one whose team will win Friday night.”
North Allegheny has the state's top offensive lineman in senior left tackle Patrick Kugler and a tough running back in Alex DiCiantis.
Gateway also has a talented tailback in Andre Martin and a secondary featuring four Division I prospects in cornerbacks Anthony Davis and Todd Jeter and safeties Nicholson and Randall.
“They're fast all over the field,” Leftwich said. “Their secondary is impressive. They're good, and they know it. We're going to have to play our best game so far this season if we want to win.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Gorman: Penn-Trafford’s Topper not defined by ‘the miss’
- Central Catholic senior Jones plays key role in all phases for Vikings
- Penn Hills football stars chosen for elite combine
- Burrell boys basketball team will rely on defense to slow foes
- Ligonier Valley bows out of District 6 postseason
- Thomas Jefferson boys basketball looks to contend in section race
- Oliver: Clairton a real-life video game
- Strong run game lifts Thomas Jefferson into WPIAL AAA title game
- Morgan Fitch set for ‘Feast of Fists III’