MASTERMIND—McKeesport Head Coach George Smith, the mastermind of the Tigers Flex-Bone offense guided the Tigers to a 49-12 win over Gateway and will lead them into the WPIAL playoffs with a 9-0 record.
As the kickoff drew near Thursday night between Gateway (7-2) and McKeesport Area High School (9-0), there was almost a basketball-like atmosphere. The Gateway student section, dressed in black and gold, was cheering loudly and the McKeesport section was aiding in the pregame revelry. Then, the Gators went out on the field, holding hands marching 2-by-2 to the beat of its own drum.
BREAKING FREE—Allen Wright (4) of McKeesport scampers away from Gateway’s Delvon Randall (2) and Anthony Davis (3). (Photos by William McBride)
But in front of one of the largest crowds ever to fill Walter “Pete” Antimarino Stadium, the undefeated McKeesport “road warriors” left with bragging rights and a 49-12 victory.
Head coach George Smith returned to the McKeesport sidelines this year after resigning in 2009. Smith won 197 games, two WPIAL titles and one PIAA title in 28 years.
The Tigers’ flexbone offense confused the Gators coaching staff.
McKeesport has a group of players at the skill positions so fast and talented that there are whispers throughout the WPIAL suggesting the Tigers could contend for the Class AAAA championship in 2013.
McKeesport’s offense starts with senior quarterback David Queen, who did his best Terrelle Pryor impersonation by rushing for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Queen was on pace for over 300 yards.
“I had to yell at him,” said coach Smith. “I wanted him to run more. They were hitting the fullback, so it was up to him to pull out and run the ball.”
Most teams would rather drink water in Westmoreland County than enter Antimarino Stadium. They have a very negative, defeatist attitude, but McKeesport is a different cat.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff and easily marched down the field and a Queen to Carlos Hudson pass gave McKeesport a 7-0 lead.
McKeesport scored touchdowns on four of its first five possessions and led at halftime 28-12. Gateway’s first year head coach Donnie Militzer appeared lost and confused throughout the half and was unable to make any halftime adjustments.
Former Gateway coach Terry Smith, was the head coach for the last 11-years before being forced out by changes made by the school board. He finished his career as Gateway’s highest winning percentage coach with a 77 percent winning record. He was 101-30 in his 11 seasons as head coach.
In June the school board voted to reduce his athletic director position from full-time to part-time and cut his salary in half. Despite all his success he had been under the microscope from the start, the scrutiny even more intense than normal because he was a first-time head coach and because he was Black.
LEADS TIGERS—McKeesport quarterback David Queen rushed for 228 yards and 3 touchdowns in Tigers 49-12 win over Gateway to win the Foothills Conference.
A private investigator was hired by the Gateway school board in November 2012, by then-school board President Dave Magill and then-Vice President Steve O’Donnell, and found no improprieties.
Coach Milizer inherited perhaps the most talented Gateway team in school history. The talent includes Temple recruits Delvon Randall, Anthony Davis and Brenon Thrift; West Virginia recruit Ricky Rogers, highly prized Division I prospect Montae Nicholson and Zaihe Regus.
“We lost two games in a row but we haven’t lost any confidence,” said team captain Anthony “Piggy” Davis.
“All four of our receivers are Division I recruits and we have a good quarterback, so if we put it all together we’ll be a problem for anybody in the playoffs.”
In boxing they say to beat the champ, you have to knock him out. Queen and fullback Mikell Moore helped the Tigers to rush for over 400 years and were the 1-2 punch that clearly KO’d the Gators.
It’s only fitting that hockey is back, because Queen recorded a hat trick, rumbling for three touchdowns.
“This was our year,” said former Gateway legendary coach Pete Antimarino. “But you can’t win ‘em all.”
Coach George Smith installed the flexbone offense back in the late 70’s and for you younger readers that was a long time ago, when new music albums were still being released on big vinyl disks. McKeesport realized that they made a mistake three years ago by letting Smith go and feel lucky to have him back.
The Gateway Gators might drop down and play in Class AAA next year. Memo to Magill, O’Donnell and the rest of the school board, as long as you have the wrong head guy, it will be a coaching nightmare in any classification.
TWO SCORES—Mikell Moore of McKeesport holds the ball up as he scores one of his two touchdowns in the Tigers 49-12 win over Gateway.
BIG NIGHT—Gateway’s Delvon Randall (2) sprints downfield after making a catch, Randall had 7 catches for 116 yards and one touchdown in the game