Militzer hired as Gateway football coach
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Donnie Militzer understood the challenge that comes with replacing a successful head coach, but he also could not ignore the outstanding potential.
“It's never easy to replace a legend,” said Militzer, who was hired Wednesday as football coach at Gateway, ending an exhaustive search to replace former coach Terry Smith. “What he did there speaks for itself; he's built a great program. It's hard to replace Coach Smith, but at the same time, it's set up nicely for you because those kids know how to win.”
Gateway was 101-30 in 11 seasons under Smith, who resigned in January to become an assistant at Temple. The Gators were 9-2 last season and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals in what was their 11th straight postseason appearance. They also were WPIAL runners-up four times.
Militzer said that success can continue.
“I have high expectations for myself and my coaching staff,” he said. “We expect to win, and I know the kids expect to win. So, for me, it's exciting. I like the fact that people expect big things from us.”
Militzer, 31, was defensive coordinator at Carlynton the past two seasons. He previously coached at Washington & Jefferson, Carnegie Mellon, Peters Township and Bishop Canevin.
A graduate of Keystone Oaks and Robert Morris, Militzer is vice principal at St. Thomas More elementary school in Bethel Park.
His three seasons overseeing linebackers at CMU helped shape his career, he said, learning from a veteran staff that had a number of former high school coaches.
“I soaked up so much knowledge from those guys,” he said, “and I still lean on those guys quite a bit for advice.”
Militzer prefers a fast-paced spread offense similar to the high-scoring approach used by W&J. His assistants will include some from Gateway and his previous stops.
“I've been so many places and around so many guys that I think we're going to have a good mix,” Militzer said. “We're going to have some young guys with a lot of playing experience, and some really veteran guys, maybe a couple former head coaches. That's important to me because I want to hire the best people I can. That's what those kids deserve.”
Gateway's search had been under way for three months. Smith resigned after Gateway's school board reduced the AD position to part-time and created a restriction that would prevent an administrator from also coaching.
Militzer applied around three weeks ago, he said, when the district readvertised the job. The school board voted 7-2, with Janice Rawson and Bill Bailey dissenting, to hire Militzer, who will earn $8,843.
“I just thought it was such a great job,” he said. “Who wouldn't want to coach at Gateway with the talent they have?”
Militzer expected to meet with his new team Thursday.
“Those kids really want to see who their coach is,” Militzer said. “They're part of a winning program, so they want someone that's going to come in and say I believe in you.”
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.
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