Gateway went through pregame warm-ups Friday night in light-gray jerseys. Then, the Gators came out for the game in black jerseys.
But no matter the jersey switch, it didn't change how the Gators treated Kiski Area.
Kiski Area came to Gateway's Antimarino Stadium with a 2-0 record, hoping to win its first three games for the first time in nine years and end a string of futility against Gateway. It ended up another mismatch. Gateway took advantage of four Kiski Area turnovers in the first half, got a big game from star Montae Nicholson and crushed Kiski Area, 43-25, in a WPIAL Class AAAA Foothills Conference game.
Seneca Valley 20, North Allegheny 6
Seneca Valley takes on North Allegheny in Friday night high school football action. (Video by Lucas Good; 9/13/2013)
Gateway 43, Kiski 25
Gateway takes on Kiski in Friday night football action. (Video by Matt Freed; 9/13/2013)
It was the eighth consecutive time Gateway (3-0 overall, 3-0 in conference) defeated Kiski Area and 14th time in the past 15 meetings. The total score for the past six meetings is 275-59.
There was a thought that this one could be different.
Maybe Kiski Area could at least stay in the game. And the Cavaliers actually took a 7-6 lead early in the first quarter on Justice Evans' 18-yard touchdown run and Adam Mitcheson's kick. But, by halftime, Gateway led, 31-7.
"I believe this is a big win just because Kiski Area is a good team, and they came in here with a lot of confidence," said Donnie Militzer, Gateway's first-year coach.
"This sets the momentum for us and says we're still a good team."
But about the change in jerseys?
"Our school administration came to us and said they talked to the officials and ours looked too close [to Kiski Area's white jerseys]. So we changed," Militzer said.
Kiski Area got to look at the back of Nicholson's jersey most of the night as he ran away from the Cavaliers.
Nicholson, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior receiver-defensive back and one of the most heavily recruited players in the WPIAL, scored three touchdowns three different ways. He finished with two interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Nicholson scored the Gators' first touchdown of the game when he returned an interception 32 yards. Later in the first quarter, after Kiski Area scored, Gateway took the lead for good. Gateway moved to the wildcat formation and put running back Zaihe Regus in the shotgun. He lofted a pass into the end zone, and Nicholson outreached Evans for a 14-yard touchdown play.
Nicholson added a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second half.
"He's been doing this since the first scrimmage this year," Militzer said. "He had four touchdowns in the first scrimmage. He does everything. By far, he's one of the best players in the country and that showed tonight."
Leading. 12-6, Gateway scored three touchdowns in the second quarter. Ricky Rogers caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Moore, Devin Pinkett returned an interception 22 yards and Regus scored on a 1-yard run.
"We honestly thought Kiski would give us more of a fight than they did," Nicholson said. "I guess we came out harder than even we expected. ... They were a physical team, but I felt like our team came together. We're getting some steam here, and, in weeks to come, it will progressively get better."
Every one of Kiski Area's four first-half turnovers turned into points for Gateway.
"You can't turn the ball over four times in the first half and I don't care who you are playing or what level you're playing," said Kiski Area coach Dave Heavner. "They're a good team, and we had some self-inflicted wounds tonight."
Gateway scored two touchdowns in the second half, both on kickoff returns. Besides Nicholson's 97-yard return, Delvon Randall returned one 95 yards for a touchdown.
"We were very sloppy tonight. You can't have the errors that we had," said Militzer, whose team had nine penalties.
"But, when you have guys like Nicholson and Delvon Randall, it's pretty easy to coach."
Kiski Area's second-half touchdowns came on Shane Kuhn's 20-yard return of a fumble and Chad Kuhn's 49-yard pass to Patrick Turner. Mitcheson also kicked a 22-yard field goal.
For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: email@example.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh First Published September 14, 2013 4:15 AM