New faces, new coach at Gateway set to meet new challenges
Tom Nola knows he has a young team.
The first-year Gateway coach also knows he has some talented players who are ready to step up and show that the Gators are a team to be reckoned with despite a great deal lost to graduation, including several players who went to Division I schools.
“This is the third year they have had a new coach and a new system,” said Nola, who replaces Donnie Militzer at Gateway after several successful years at Clairton.
“I am pleased with how they progressed in the spring and summer, both in the weight room and on the field.”
Gateway lost its starting quarterback, Jimmy Moore, its top four wide receivers, led by Michigan State recruit Montae Nicholson, the entire linebacking corps and secondary, and a couple of anchors on the offensive and defensive lines.
Four players who earned conference honorable mention selection — senior lineman Dom Scassera, sophomore lineman Robert Hainsey, junior tailback Adam White and sophomore place kicker Jordan Washington — are back.
The offensive line is experienced as senior Hunter Dale and junior Adam Clark return after seeing playing time last year.
Senior wide receiver John Holder, a 6-foot-4 Division I prospect, returns to after a year at the now-closed Renaissance Christian Academy.
He has offers from Akron and James Madison and has garnered interest from Pitt, Penn State and West Viriginia, among others.
Senior Arrington Johns and juniors Aiden Howard, Malik Burks, Dom Fultz and Harold Denson are expected to form a versatile receiving corps, Nola said.
Members of that group are being looked at in the secondary.
Senior Dylan Smith, who recovered from an injury that hampered him in 2013, is expected to start at fullback and anchor the linebackers on the inside.
“The available spots on the field created a lot of competitiveness,” Nola said.
Senior Michael Loffredo and sophomore Ryan Waros will compete at quarterback.
Gateway also saw change in the offseason with a move from Quad-A to Class AAA. It will renew its rivalry with Franklin Regional in the Greater Allegheny Conference and clash with the likes of Mars, Knoch and Hampton.
“Class AAA is very competitive,” Nola said. “Just because we drop from Quad-A, it doesn't mean we won't have some challenging games. But the guys are ready for that challenge.”