Gators hope to slow down Spartans in Quad East battle
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Hempfield is off to its best start since 1997.
The Spartans are 3-1 and ranked 10th in this week's Tribune-Review Quad-A rankings. They have more wins so far this season than they did in 2010 (1-8) and 2011 (1-8) combined.
Last week, Hempfield scored 35 points in the first half against Kiski Area and produced a 42-21 victory.
The task at hand this week, Gateway head coach Terry Smith said, is to put a halt to any momentum the Spartans have established.
The Gators travel to Hempfield on Friday for the Quad-East clash. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“We're expecting it to be a very tough matchup,” Smith said.
“It's going to be a physical game. It will be a critical game for the conference standings.”
New Spartans head coach Rich Bowen was charged in the offseason with turning around a program that won only 23 games between 2000 and 2011. Bowen has been successful in turning around struggling programs.
“Coach Bowen's history speaks for itself,” Smith said.
“He's been successful everywhere he's gone. They are a disciplined, fundamentally sound football team because of what he and his coaching staff brought in. They are playing hard and have a lot of confidence.”
Hempfield opened its season with a convincing 33-18 victory over traditional Quad-A power McKeesport, and then the Spartans throttled Latrobe, 43-7, in week two. A stumble against Connellsville, 14-10, in week three is their lone loss this season.
The Gators quick de- fense, which bent but didn't break in the first half against Altoona last week before helping to finish off a 42-7 victory, will be charged with stopping Hempfield's senior dual-threat quarterback Ty George.
The Gators held him to seven yards rushing and 29 yards passing in last year's 36-0 victory.
George was in command last week in the wake of Hempfield's top two running backs going down to injuries.
He rushed and passed for more than 100 yards against Kiski Area last week, and he scored on runs of 42, 1, 45 and 2 yards.
“They spread the field, and George's making good decisions,” Smith said.
“He's finding the open guy, and he can also run the football. He's much improved from last year. He's their general, and he's the key to their offense. Their offense is what's helping them win football games.”
Gateway overcame 10 penalties against Altoona last week. The Mountain Lions' lone touchdown came on the heels of a Gateway muffed punt at the Gators' 35.
Still ahead 14-7, Gateway responded to the Altoona touchdown with an 11-play, 78-yard drive that was capped by a 5-yard run from senior Darin Franklin.
Gators senior quarterback Thomas Woodson completed three passes for 54 yards on the drive, and he added two carries for 18 yards.
“We're still a work in progress, and we had too many penalties again last week and made some mistakes,” Smith said.
“But we continue to improve each week and are progressing the way I expect. The kids are playing hard. We overcame some mistakes early to still have a comfortable victory.”
Woodson had his best passing game of the season, as he completed 13 of 21 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns.
He was 4 for 4 for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter alone.
“We came into the locker room at halftime and had to regroup,” Woodson said.
“We weren't playing as well as we new we could, and the coaches challenged us. We took that challenge head on. We went out and executed.”
Junior Montae Nicholson was Woodson's favorite target, as he hauled in six passes for 204 yards and a touchdown.
The running game, fueled by seniors Andre Martin and Darin Franklin, compiled 129 yards.
Martin finished with 11 carries for 58 yards and two touchdown runs.
He now has 11 rushing touchdowns through four games.
Franklin added 31 yards on 10 carries.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or 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.
- Wintry weather in forecast for Mon-Yough area
- Race for Pennsylvania’s 39th Legislative District one to watch
- Twin Rivers COG takes another step toward finalizing merger with Steel Valley
- Hackers’ new Dyre malware infects W.Pa. computers, vexes FBI cyber agents
- Fleury, Penguins too much for Kings
- McKeesport basketball tournament to assist homeless veterans
- Veteran LB Harrison: Steelers must play to way defense is set up
- Steelers notebook: Fully healthy, rookie WR Bryant progressing fast
- 5 Cal U football players arrested for assault; Saturday’s game canceled
- Police: Man wanted in fatal ambush of Pennsylvania trooper finally captured
- Pirates likely to seek pitcher, catcher when free agency starts