It was well known before the season began that Gateway would have a terrific group of receivers, but a big factor in how successful this team would become hinged on the play of its first-year starting quarterback.
For the Gators, it's been a case of the Moore, the merrier.
Jimmy Moore hasn't been a "game manager" for Gateway. Instead, at times, he's been a game changer.
Moore, a senior, is second in WPIAL Class AAAA in passing. He's completed 83 of 155 passes for 1,235 yards and 13 touchdowns. Moore has helped Gateway to a 6-0 record (5-0 in the Foothills Conference) and a No. 3 ranking by the Post-Gazette.
It's been awhile since Gateway had a one-year starter at quarterback. The Gators' previous two quarterbacks -- Rob Kalkstein and Thomas Woodson -- started for four and three years, respectively.
Moore has been especially impressive lately, throwing for three touchdowns in each of the past two games.
"He just keeps on getting better each week," first-year Gateway coach Donnie Militzer said. "He's a first-year starter, but he's been around football for a long time. He's just tough as nails. Nothing rattles him."
Moore's coolness under pressure was on display in Gateway's come-from-behind win against Hempfield Area two weeks ago. With Gateway trailing by two points in the closing minutes, Moore led the Gators on the winning touchdown drive that covered 80 yards in 1:21 and culminated with his 7-yard touchdown toss to Delvon Randall with 39 seconds left.
"[Moore] was huge," Militzer said. "He was cool, calm and collected. He threw four perfect balls. I've told him that with the talented receivers he has, he just has to put the ball in a position where they can make a play."
The Gators have arguably the best cast of receivers in the WPIAL with Randall, Montae Nicholson, Ricky Rogers and Anthony Davis. All four are Division I-bound. Randall (four), Nicholson (three), Rogers (three) and Davis (three) have been on the receiving end of all of Moore's touchdown passes.
Last week, Gateway ended North Allegheny's 23-game home winning streak by edging the Tigers, 35-32. Moore threw touchdown passes of 32 yards to Randall, 47 yards to Davis and 63 yards to Nicholson. Randall also scored on two touchdown runs.
Gateway has shown the ability to win close games. In addition to the narrow victories against Hempfield and North Allegheny, the Gators rallied for a 22-20 win at Greater Latrobe in the season opener.
"They stick together as a group and they always believe they can win games, no matter the situation. They've always been able to close it out," Militzer said.
Hempfield getting its kicks
Most high school kickers don't post big numbers in the field-goal category, but Hempfield junior John Domit is an exception.
Domit has kicked seven field goals, tying him for the WPIAL lead with Mt. Lebanon's Rob Costantino. Domit is also 15 of 17 on extra points.
In Hempfield's 37-14 win against Altoona last week, Domit became only the second WPIAL kicker (Costantino the other) to kick three field goals in a game this season. Domit booted field goals of 45, 42 and 23 yards.
Balla keys GCC's surge
After losing its first three games, Greensburg Central Catholic found itself in big trouble. So, the Centurions turned to one of their smallest players for help.
Senior running back Tyler Balla (5 feet 5, 159 pounds) has meant more to his team's offense than maybe any player in the WPIAL recently. During Greensburg Central Catholic's three-game winning streak, Balla has played a part in 12 of the Centurions' 13 touchdowns. He's rushed for eight touchdowns, caught three and passed for one.
Penn-Trafford (4-2, 4-1) at Kiski Area (3-3, 3-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday -- Penn-Trafford running back Devin Austin is having an excellent season, having rushed for 749 yards and at least 100 yards in all but one game. That's bad news for Kiski Area. Last season, Austin hauled in a pass and raced 91 yards for a touchdown in a 27-0 Penn-Trafford win.
Valley (5-1, 4-1) at Summit Academy (3-3, 3-2), 12:30 p.m. Saturday -- Valley's offense has scored at least 42 points three games in a row, but Summit Academy -- winners of two in a row -- has given up more than 15 points just once. Valley quarterback Ty Matthews has passed for five touchdowns and rushed for four in the past three games.
First Published October 9, 2013 8:00 PM