Polar-opposite offensives will be on display in the latest edition of the Gateway/McKeesport rivalry tonight.
The flexbone rushing attack of McKeesport Area (8-0, 7-0) will clash with the aerial assault from Gateway (7-1, 6-1) when the rivals meet at 7 tonight at Gateway's Pete Antimarino Stadium. The game will be televised live by Root Sports TV and will decide the Foothills Conference championship.
Week 8 of the high school football season was a perfect example of the different philosophies employed by the teams.
McKeesport attempted one pass in a 34-12 win against Kiski Area. The Tigers ran the ball 39 times for 314 yards.
Gateway attempted 28 passes in a 35-34 loss to Penn-Trafford.
"I don't know if they have thrown it 28 times all year," Gateway coach Donnie Militzer said.
Last Friday night was the most prolific performance by a Gateway quarterback and wide receiver. Quarterback Jimmy Moore set a school record with 390 passing yards. Likewise, wide receiver Montae Nicholson set a school record with 253 receiving yards.
Gateway scored every time it possessed the ball except the final drive when the Gators took over with only 10 seconds left.
"We might have scored again if we had more than 10 seconds," Militzer said. "Offensively, everything really just started clicking. We got in a nice groove."
That offense will need to fire on all cylinders to keep up with McKeesport. While the offenses are entirely different, the results are similar. McKeesport is averaging 32.4 points per game. Gateway averages 28.9 points per game.
On Friday night Moore tossed four touchdown passes but it was a Zaihe Regus 1-yard touchdown run that put Gateway up, 34-27, with 2:16 to play. The Gateway defense was not able to hold, however, as Penn-Trafford marched down the field to score with 16 seconds left and playing for the win, the Warriors converted a 2-point conversion to seal the game.
The Tigers were dominant in their win against Kiski Area with fullback Mikell Moore rushing for 79 yards and three scores and quarterback TyWann Smith rushing for 69 yards on six carries.
When Gateway and Mc-Keesport moved to the Foothills Conference in 2008, it created an end-of-season rivalry between the two programs and a de facto conference championship game. When the teams met from 2008-'10, the matchup determined the conference champion. The Gators and Tigers have combined to win four of the past five conference championships.
Gateway has won five of the past six meetings, including a 21-6 win last season at Mc-Keesport.
This will be Militzer's first game in the rivalry after taking over for Terry Smith this season.
"Anything that I am not well versed on [in regard to the rivalry], the kids are filling me in," Militzer said. "It is a pretty intense deal when these two teams meet."
McKeesport will hope to duplicate the success the Penn-Trafford running backs had against the Gateway defense. The Warriors rushed for 233 yards against Gateway.
"We have to figure out a way to stop the run," Militzer said. "Offensively, McKeesport is tough to stop. There is really nothing they don't do well. A big thing is stopping their fullback. If you can contain him on the dive, that is a big part of it.
"We have to try to stop them on first down and keep them in second-and-long situations where you have to force them to put it in the air."