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Connellsville football team pushes forward versus rugged Gateway

| Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, 1:11 a.m.
Tribune Review
Dylan Knopsnider (21) and the Falcons will look for a bounce-back effort in a Week 2 showdown against host Gateway on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.

Connellsville football coach Dave McDonald correctly points out that mental toughness is a critical part to success in sports. The Falcons will have an opportunity to show how mentally strong they are when they travel to Gateway on Friday for their second Quad East clash of the young season.

For the Falcons, the season couldn't have started on more of a downer. Expecting big things, Connellsville produced a clunker in a 53-20 home loss to Kiski Area in Week 1.

“I think the kids were stunned,” McDonald said. “They expected so much more. We let a lot of people down, and that hurts.”

But the Falcons are trying to put the loss to Kiski Area in perspective, and then possibly take away some positives from the disappointing setback.

“Watching the film of the Kiski game was good for us because they saw that the mistakes that were made were correctable mistakes,” McDonald said.

“It wasn't that we didn't match up. It wasn't that we were out-athleted. We just didn't execute like we did in our scrimmages. Is Kiski a good team? Yes. But we just didn't perform the way we are capable of performing.”

McDonald and his team know that nothing can be done to change last week's result, but plenty can be accomplished to impact this week's game.

“The one thing we talked about is being mentally tougher,” McDonald said. “Instead of dwelling on the past, let's use it as fuel and fire and not make the same mistakes again.”

The Falcons may be catching the Gators at a good time. Gateway is coming off a 22-20 victory over Latrobe, but the Gators turned the ball over five times and committed 17 penalties. Still, there's no denying Gateway's talent.

Gateway features a strong receiving group in Montae Nicholson, Delvon Randall, Anthony Davis and Ricky Rogers. All are Division I recruits. Jimmy Moore is the starting quarterback.

“They are loaded with Division I athletes and are very skilled,” McDonald said. “They have the makings of all the hype that people talk about.”

For the Falcons, not paying attention to that hype will be key. Connellsville will look to improve on both sides of the ball.

The Falcons will try to build on a solid passing effort by senior Jade Maher, who found Caleb Pittsment and Darrell Ross on touchdown passes in last week's loss.

“They're excited to get back out and play again,” McDonald said. “But we can't shoot ourselves in the foot. Our process is to clean up the errors. We want to execute at a higher level, then look at the scoreboard and see where we stand.”

Jason Black is the Local Sports Editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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