W.P.I.A.L. Championship Game: 6-6 Tie
“The Frustration of Sharing a Championship”

Gateways 1974 football season did not start or end Nov. 27 at Pitt Stadium against a strong Upper St. Claire football team. On that day, two undefeated AA teams had to split the prize each team wanted so badly. However, there should be no cause for dissatisfaction after the 6-6 tie. There are literally dozens of other high school teams in western PA and thousands from around the country who would gladly settle for what the
Gators achieved during the 1974 season. Looking back the season began months before the W.P.I.A.L. Championship game, in the hot August two-a-day workout sessions. And even months before as many of the Gators met informally for strength and conditioning workouts and to work on play execution and passing drills.

Our Gators showed signs of a strong team after engaging in two preseason “AA” scrimmages, one of which was against our rival Penn Hills whom we later defeated in the first round of the W.P.I.A.L. playoffs at New Kensington. What followed was 12 weeks of competition not just a championship game. Except for that game against USC, the Gators dominated in the previous 11 games going 11-0. In any competitive sport those who consistently play up to their potential usually win. Those who limit their mistakes and play hard with team work and enthusiasm in every game on every play are usually champions. The 1974 Gator squad’s final reward deservingly includes the word Champions in the title. Although it is preceded by the prefix “Co”, it ends just the same. All of which means the Gators are no less champions. It also gives a great team like USC a share in some of the well deserved glory. In any case, a tie for first place is an esteemed accomplishment that all the other eligible teams in the league could only dream of. In 1974, the Gateway Gators lived a dream; and the players, coaches, and hundreds of supporters including the player’s parents, fellow students, cheerleaders, band members, teachers, administrators, and virtually the entire Pitcairn-Monroeville community will remember the excitement and sense of accomplishment of a Championship season brought for decades to follow.

For all of those who were intimately associated with the 1974 Gator Football Team, you will never forget this uniquely special experience. Let that experience be a constant reminder that when we set clear goals, and we are willing to make personal sacrifices over an extended period of time, (with the goal and the team always in clear focus), the entire process can be exhilarating for all participants, the rewards truly satisfying, and
your dreams … yes your dreams can and will be fulfilled.

The 1974 Gateway Gator Interior Lineman
Unsung Heroes Mentored By An Unsung Coach

The 1974 Gateway Gators five starting interior linemen are sensitive, deep thinking young men. They realize that most of the headlines and glory are reserved for their teammates who run, throw, and catch the football. They understand this and learn to live with it. Their position coach, Steve Klipa told them it was ok to be that way.

Offensive lineman Carl Weiss once said, “We were born to be offensive lineman. Our job is to protect the passer and open the holes for the running backs.” Carl, loved by his coaches and teammates, and who tragically passed away shortly after graduation from Gateway, gives us a good job description for the role that he and his fellow lineman accepted with pride. Coach Klipa taught Carl to take pride in the little things; from standing straight in a line, to always being there right on time.

As a unit, the Gator offensive line was on the small end of the physical size range for a top rated high school football team in the 1970’s. But we know what they say about the size of the dog in the fight. The “fight”, or as veteran line coach and team spiritual leader “Coach Klipa” would call it, the “heart” is what really matters. And this group of lineman had HEART. Coach Klipa might have asked rhetorically, “Did they have heart?” And then he’d answer, “Oh did they ever!”

Right tackle Jeff Weiner, at 6′ 1, 207 lbs. was the biggest starter. Mike Castagnero, at left tackle was 6′ 1 and weighed 205 lbs. Center Steve Silianoff anchored the line at 6’0 185 lbs. Carl Weiss and Gary West at 5′ 10, 190 lbs. were the guards. Although he did slide down field and catch a couple of passes almost every game, starting end Frank Sattler, 5′ 11 175lbs.was a key component in most blocking schemes and enjoyed locking arms with his fellow interior lineman. “Togetherness” was one of coach Klipa’s favorite words … but to the ’74 team, “togetherness” was much more than just a word.

Coach Klipa, who spent hours on the practice field, in the locker room, and studying game films with this group of unsung hero’s, offers his unique perspective on each of them:

Steve Silianoff
“Steve really developed himself in the off season. He worked out constantly, lifting weights, running, and playing basketball-often at the Wilmerding Y. That exchange between him and the quarterback is a big responsibility to him. He and Pete never had one fumbled exchange from the first preseason scrimmage through the Championship game. You seldom see that type of consistency, even at the professional level. Steve
gave us much more his senior year than we expected.”

Gary West
“Gary is one the strongest boys on the team. He has worked very hard during his high school career at Gateway and though his dedication developed into an outstanding offensive guard. He has a nice combination of quickness and power in a compact body.”

Carl Weiss
“Carl’s excellent form and technique enhanced his ability as a guard. He has great strength and his angle of charge is terrific.”

Jeff Weiner
“Jeff is an exceptionally strong kid. He’s very sensitive, and is a deep thinker who has a lot on the ball. His main forte on the field is his quick, low charge off the ball. Jeff knows how to improvise and adjust to changes on the field and is a great blocker down field too.”

Mike Castagnero
“Mike’s charge can be absolutely devastating. We ran a lot of plays over him. He’s very strong. He keeps his teammates loose with his sayings. He’s a real philosopher.”

“We fire each other up during the week, Steve Silianoff said. “We talk to each other constantly. We keep each other up. We play as a group not as individuals.” No question Silianoff is a fully converted Coach Klipa disciple. And no doubt still is today.

Coach Klipa would have loved to have been here tonight to witness one of his favorite offensive lines and favorite teams get inducted into the Gateway Hall Of Fame. He had a tremendous influence on many Gateway student athletes, particularly those athletes that liked to lock arms in the trenches.

Thanks Steve,
Coach Pete

Gateway 50 Steel Valley 0
“We have a winning tradition here at Gateway,” coach Pete Antimarino remarked as his players went through a brief callisthenic session in the endzone after thrashing the Steel Valley Ironmen, 50-0, in Friday night’s opener. “They like to win, and I hope they never lose that feeling,” the Gator coach added.

The Gators built up an insurmountable 22-0 lead after the first twelve minutes and coasted the rest of the way as the regulars watched the second half from the sidelines.

It took less than four minutes for Gateway to put the first six points of the 1974 season on the scoreboard. Wingback Sammy Nelson set the tempo when he danced then plowed into the endzone from six yards out at the 8:21 mark. Nelson’s touchdown capped a five
play scoring drive which began when defensive back Larry Mignogna recovered a fumble on the Steel Valley 25.

Fullback Ted Skundrich scored moments later on a 49-yard run to make it 13-0 with 6:05 left in the first period. With 3 :44 remaining, the Gators got two points when the Steel Valley punter was tackled in the endzone after the snap strayed high over his head. Gateway took the ensuing kick and immediately set forth toward the Ironmen goal line. Tailback Kevin Plowman climaxed a five play drive when he smashed off tackle from a
yard out. Wayne Emerick’s extra point made it 22-0 with 1 :25 left in the opening quarter. Plowman scored his second touchdown on a two yard run with 1: 15 to play in the half. Emerick’s third conversion put the Gators in command by a 29-0 count.

Emerick displayed his versatility in the second half when he scored touchdowns on runs of 45, 22 and 2 yards. His 3 touchdowns and four extra points gave him 22 points on the night. “I didn’t expect to play that much,” the junior quarterback said afterwards. “I was pleased with my performance but the fact that we won is the most important thing.”

Plowman, although only playing 24 minutes, finished with 79 yards rushing. Pete Antimarino, Gateway’s starting quarterback, completed four of 8 passes for 62 yards. He, like most of the starters only played the first half of the game. Gateway’s stingy defense allowed Steel Valley just 49 total offensive yards-all on the gound as the Ironmen failed to complete a pass in 8 attempts. The Gators on the other hand, exploded for 411
yards-332 on the ground and 79 via the airways.

As a result of an explosive first half, the Gator’s “B” unit got significant playing time. On defense, junior Pat Sheehy was a standout as he spent the entire second half pressuring the Steel Valley quarterback. He also forced one fumble and made several good hits. Tackle Ken Johnson was effective with his pass rush, and tackle Steve Perry and linebacker Scott West combined for a third quarter safety. All of Gateway’s
defensive players seemed to hit with authority, and Antimarino admitted that this was a prerequisite for playing for the Gators. Due for some hitting next are the Highlands Golden Rams, who host the Gators next Friday night.

Gateway 36 Highlands 6
The headlines read, “Gateway Beats Highlands in Game of the Week”. The Post-Gazette Game of the Week was postponed because of heavy rain and was rescheduled from Friday evening to Saturday evening. It didn’t take the Gators long to turn the game into a route. Gateway’s powerhouse offense quickly turned two Highlands miscues into touchdowns and coasted the rest of the way. The Golden Ram’s went down to defeat to
the tune of 36-6 while a capacity crowd looked on. Throughout the game “The Wild Bunch” led by a hard hitting John “Bucky” Palermo, bottled up the Ram offense and forced them into many mistakes. Highlands was held to a minus 10 yards rushing and only 77 yards through the airways. Q.B. Pete Antimarino led his team with 133 total yards, 29 rushing and 104 passing. He completed 5 out of 12 passes.

Kevin Plowman scored in the opening quarter on a 2 yard smash; Emerick’s PAT made it 7-0. Kevin Staymates set up the Gator’s first score by recovering a fumble at the Highlands 20.

“Bucky” Palermo set up the second T.D. with an interception at the Ram’s 22. Antimarino capped a four play drive as he turned on the speed around left end for a 7 yard run early into the second quarter.

The third T.D. came with :43 remaining in the first half when Kevin Plowman hooked up with Bruce Campbell for a 40 yard halfback option pass. Emerick’s PAT made the score 20-0 at half time. The Gators lead reached 27-0 when Plowman scored his second T.D. on a 5 yard run.

The Gator “Wild Bunch” put pressure on the Highlands offense throughout the second half. Their quarterback spent much of the game running for his life as the Gator defense sacked him on many passing attempts. Junior fullback Ted Skundrich scored the final gator TD when he slammed over from the 2 yard line making the score 3 6-0. The Rams finally got on the board on a 6 yard pass against the Gateway substitutes late in the game.

Gateway 33 Fox Chapel 0
They call themselves “The Wild Bunch.” They play a relentless, reckless style of football that pops your eyes out and makes you wonder just how much more a high school offense can take. “They love to hit people and they pride themselves in it”,
Coach Antimarino remarked after watching his defensive unit record its second shutout in
three weeks-a 33-0 shellacking over a befuddled Fox Chapel array.

Lest we forget the Gateway offensive unit? A unit that has produced more points in three weeks than many teams have in three years? “The offense is progressing very well,” Antimarino said with a grin. “The linemen are firing out and getting the jump, and the
backs are running with authority.”

“The Wild Bunch” limited Fox Chapel to 20 yards rushing and 98 passing while the offense rolled up 444 net yards as the Gators chalked up their third straight lopsided win in as many weeks.

Pete Antimarino the quarterback guided the Gators to touchdowns the first four times they had possession of the football. He ended the evening with nine completions in 14 attempts for 164 yards. He also scored a touchdown on a six yard run in the opening period. Kevin Plowman scored three of the Gator touchdowns on runs of one, three, and five yards. Plowman ended the night as the game’s leading rusher with 83 yards on nine
attempts, while wingback Sam Nelson added 53 yards on seven tries. Bruce Campbell had 77 yards on four receptions to lead both schools in that department. Johnny Palermo, seeing duty as a linebacker and running back, scored a touchdown from two yards out in the first quarter.

The Gator defense intimated Fox Chapel’s standout quarterback Carl Boggiovoni and bottled him up continuously. Boggiovoni completed five of eight harmless passes. “It’s tough to single out any one individual,” Antimarino said. “They all played a sound defensive game.” “The Wild Bunch”-Palermo, McBride, Staymates, and Moore at linebackers. Flynn and Beck the ends; Baklarz and Takacs at tackles; DiGuillio, Mignogna, and DeJeet in the backfield. And Antimarino says, “Don’t forget the coaches who inspire them everyday in practice,” which includes Defensive Coordinator Art Betts, and assistants John Moody, Russ Graton, and Jim Matarazzo.

The Wild Bunch-an integral part of Gateway’s football success. A group with a passion for violence on the gridiron. A group that causes sleepless nights for opposing coaches and players. Mission number four: Churchill Saturday, 1 :30 p.m. Objective; Reckless football, violent football, winning football. The same as usual here at Gateway.

Gateway 55 Churchill 7
Gateway, the Post Gazette’s #1 ranked team, remained undefeated by defeating the Churchill Chargers 55-7 Saturday afternoon on the Chargers home turf. This was another great game for the “Wild Bunch” unit giving up only 166 yards and just six first downs. Charger runners managed just 19 yards on the ground, while the Gators forced Charger quarterback Vince Morasco into a poor afternoon through the airways too while rolling
up a 47-0 score early in the 4th quarter before turning the game over to the reserves.

The Gators put on it’s most impressive offensive show of the year by gaining 218 yards on the ground and 266 through the air, most of which was accumulated in the first 3 periods of play. Tailback Kevin Plowman, as usual, lead the ground attack for the Gators and scored two touchdowns in the third quarter. Quarterback Pete Antimarino threw three touchdown passes and rushed for another two, as the Gators moved the ball with
ease against the out-manned chargers. Antimarino finished with eight completions in eleven attempts for 167 yards. He threw touchdown passes of 44 yards to Jack Diguilio, while Bruce Campbell caught the other two touchdowns for 22 and 26 yards.

The Gators offensive line, schooled masterfully by veteran line coach Steve Klipa controlled the game, and dominated the point of attack until they turned the game over to their back-ups early in the 4th quarter. The Gators offensive line is extremely disciplined and almost never gets penalized. This cohesive unit is anchored by Steve Silianoff at center, Gary West and Carol Weiss at the guards and Mike Castagnero and Jeff Weiner at
the tackles.

“Gateway is a super football team”, Charger coach Barry Johncour remarked after the game. “They do everything well.” Coach Johncour’s remarks summed up the Gators play against their backyard rivals quite well and was also an excellent analysis of how the Gators have performed over the first four games of the 197 4 football season.

Gateway 37 Sto-Rox 6
Sunday headlines in the Post Gazette read “Gators survive tough Sto Rox effort with 37-6 victory”. Saturday afternoon at the “Dust Bowl” in McKees Rock, our Gators faced the biggest team and the best quarterback in the West Penn Conference. In the first two quarters “The Wild Bunch” found it rough to contain the passing of QB Chuck Fusina who went on to star at quarterback for Penn State, and then the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL. He completed 8 of 11 passes for 92 yards in the first half.

The Gators gained 84 yards on the ground and 62 yards in the air, but couldn’t seem to get the critical yardage to convert their gains into points. However, Gateway did get on the boards in the first quarter when Pete Antimarino scored on a quarterback keeper. Emerick’s kick was good, giving the visitors a 7-0 lead. In the second quarter Fusina hit his wide receiver for a TD the Vikings first and only score. The kick was blocked
making the score at half time 7-6.

Lively halftime discussions must have done the trick as the Gators played a remarkable second half. After receiving the second half kick off the Gators completed a drive of 23 yards by a hard running Johnny Palermo. Antimarino’s two point conversion pass to Kevin Plowman made the score 15-6 Gators. The Gator’s scored on a second long drive in the third quarter stretching the lead to 22-6.

In the 4th quarter Jack Diguilio took a handoff up the middle to score for the Gator’s again. The Emerick kick was good and the Gators lead 29-6. Late in the Game the Gators scored again on a pass to Mark Dale who took it in for another TD to end the scoring at 37-6. “The Wild Bunch” was dominant after the half time interlude holding the “Rox” to only one first down and a mere 21 total yards in the second half. The victory marked the 5th straight win of the season for Gateway.

Gateway 37 North Allegheny 6
Before a capacity homecoming crowd, the Gators were ready for the challenge and easily defeated the North Allegheny Tigers 37-6. “You have to put out all year round,” co-captain John Palermo explained after the big win. “We knew what to expect when practice started in August, and we knew it would pay off if we sacrificed then.” “It’s togetherness”, quarterback Pete Antimarino added. “We have a mature team. We all know what has to be done-and we do it.”

The Gators did it again Friday night, compiling 409 net yards on offense, while N.A. managed just 93 total yards. Senior tailback Kevin Plowman set the pace with 109 yards rushing on 16 attempts. Antimarino completed 3 of 8 passes for 132 yards. Bruce Campbell was on the receiving end of each one of those passes. Early in the second period, Plowman capped a 10 play drive when he smashed over from one yard out. Wayne Emerick made it 7-0. The Gators had field position advantage through the second period but did not score again until the last play of the first half when Wayne Emerick booted a 22 yard field goal to make it 10-0 at halftime. Gateway began to roll in the 3rd quarter behind a strong offensive line, with Plowman scoring 2 touchdowns and junior fullback Ted Skundrich plowing in for another two scores.

“The Wild Bunch” dominated the opposing offense once again holding the frustrated Tigers to under 100 total yards and a mere 6 points. After 6 games the Gator defense is allowing an average of only 4.2 points per game. If you take away a few meaningless 4th quarter touchdowns against the “B” unit, the average points allowed drops to 2.0 points per game. This is obviously a great tribute to the entire defensive unit inspired by Coach Art Betts who heads up the defensive strategies along with linebacker coach Russ Gratton and backfield coach John Moody.

Gateway 25 North Hills 7
On Friday night, October 18th, North Hills came to Gateway High School Stadium to play football-“No doubt about it.” The Gators were trailing for the first time this season, 7-6 at the end of the first half time. “North Hills was fired up,” Antimarino noted. They could have been tied with us for first place had they won.” North Hills was the best team we’ve played so far, co-captain Kevin Staymates noted. “We made too many mistakes
early … but we didn’t panic.”

The Gators took an early 6-0 lead in the opening period as quarterback Pete Antimarino hooked up with his favorite receiver Bruce Campbell for 43 yards and a touchdown. The extra point was blocked by the fired up Indians. The Indians countered in the second period with a 10 play march, converting the extra point and taking a 7-6 lead into the locker room.

The half time pep talk must have fired up the Gators because they came back to stage a furious 2nd half rally to stomp the Indians 25-7. Midway through the 3rd period Kevin Plowman scored from two yards out capping a punishing seven play drive that covered 4 7 yards. The conversion pass failed but the Gators recaptured the lead 12-7. From that point on it was all Gateway as Pete Antimarino and Johnny Palermo added insurance touchdowns which turned the game into a usual Gator route. Palermo, who scored on a dazzling 55 yard runt return remarked, “We weren’t psyched up in the first half. We woke up in the 3 r quarter and started to play ball.”

The Gators rolled up 303 total yards. Plowman rushed for 124 yards and scored his 13th T.D. of the year. The Gateway offense, lead by the running of Plowman, Palermo and Ted Skundrich, along with the quarterbacking of Antimarino has scored 248 points in seven games. With two regular season games yet to play this offensive squad has already established itself as the highest scoring unit it the school’s history.

The defense, a solid, well balanced unit lead by linebacker Johnny Palenno and defensive tackle Keith Baklarz (the Gators heaviest player at 210 lbs.) has two shutouts and yielded just four touchdowns and only 32 total points through seven games.

Gateway 26 Shaler 3
October 25, 1974 the Shaler Titans gave the Gators all they could handle for two quarters before 11,000 fans. This match up was seen by many as the game of the year since Shaler still had a chance for a share of the conference championship if they could dethrone the reigning West Penn Conference Champions. But the W.P.I.A.L.’s #1 ranked team, once again came alive in the second half to break open a close game and win going away 26-3. “We know there are two halves to every game so we don’t get impatient,” explained Coach Antimarino.

The Gators took an early first quarter lead after quickly capitalizing on a 14 yard Bucky Palermo punt return that gave the Gators the ball on the Titans 36 yard line. One the first play from scrimmage Gateway struck as unexpectedly as a bolt of lightning on a sunny day as Kevin Plowman darted through a large crevice between the guards and threaded his way down the center of the field for an electrifying touchdown against a defense which until then had been nothing but tough. The Titans answered in the second quarter on a 31 yard field goal making the score 6-3 at half.

But in the second half it was all Gateway. Gaining possession at their own 32 after a Shaler punt, Gateway drove the ball into the mouth of the Titans’ highly regarded defense. With a steady dose of Plowman and Palermo taking turns almost every other play Gateway drove 68 yards in 13 plays for the take-command touchdown. Plowman did the honors from the two. The two point conversion clicked when quarterback Antimarino passed to Sammy Nelson making score 14-3 in 3rd quarter. Plowman ended the night as the top rusher with 117 yards on 18 attempts. He also completed a 45 yard pass to Frank Sattler on an option pass.

Gateway built a comfortable lead 20-3 midway through the 4th quarter when Palermo raced in from the 10 yard line. The Gator’s final score came shortly after the Palermo TD as Antimarino went over from the 2 yard line after a grind ’em out 41 yard march. It was obvious that Gateway’s well oiled offensive machine was once again in control. Veteran offensive line mentor Steve Klipa had his well schooled linemen fired up and dominating the line of scrimmage for the entire second half of play.

As usual Art Betts’ s aggressive defenders were super in this match. The kids were hitting hard and forcing Shaler to make mistakes. Against the Titans they were exceptionally devastating only giving up a 3 point field goal. After playing 8 West Penn Conference teams “The Wild Bunch” held their opponents to a total of four touchdowns and two of those were meaningless second half touchdowns against the reserves. “The Wild Bunch”
has established themselves as one of the best defensive units in the history of Gateway Football. The victory over Shaler also clinches the conference Championship, making it 9 out of 10 West Penn Conference championships for the Gators- a remarkable accomplishment for the “Wild Bunch”, their offensive counterpart “The Machine”, and the entire Gateway Football program. The win over Shaler also sets up a first round
playoff match up against local rival Penn Hills winner of the All-West Conference on November 8th

Gateway 43 Seneca Valley 19
The 1974 Gator squad kept Gateway’s winning tradition alive and well by winning for the ninth straight time and finishing the season unbeaten-the third time the Gators have finish the regular season undefeated in the past six years. The Gators rolled up a commanding 35-0 halftime lead on the passing of quarterback Pete Antimarino, the receiving of Bruce Campbell and the running of Kevin Plowman and Ted Skundrich. The Gator “B” unit played the entire second half.

The Gators dominated all phases of the game gaining 327 total yards to Seneca Valley’s 123 yards. Defensive end Tom Flynn was “The Wild Bunch” star of the game as he set up a Gator touchdown when he jumped high in the air to intercept a Seneca Valley pass on SV 20 yard line. Flynn’s “Wild Bunch” teammates completely shut Seneca Valley down in the first half before turning the game over to the “B” team in the second half. Scoring for the Gators in this game was well distribute and reflective of a well balanced, diversified offensive attack: Campbell-29 yard scoring grab from Antimarino, Emerick kick; Skundrich-44 yard run, Emerick kick 14-0; Sattler-15 yard pass from Antimarino, Emerick kick 21-0; Campbell-56 yard pass from Antimarino, Emerick kick 28-0; Nelson four yard run, Emerick kick 35-0. David Geyer two yard run, Emerick pass to Bill
Devine for the conversion 43-6. Seneca Valley managed three second half touchdowns, all of course against the Gator’s “B” unit.

The victory against Seneca Valley completes a perfect regular season for the Gators and sets up a first round playoff game against arch rivals and All-West Conference Champs, the Penn Hills Indians.

Gateway 13 Penn Hills 0
November 8, 1974
It was a game in which the statistics (first down stats favored the Gators 16-2) indicated complete domination throughout this W.P.I.A.L. first round playoff game. In typical Western PA football fashion, it was a defensive battle and both teams played great defense. Both teams featured strong running backs, but there were no 100 yard games that night. This game featured defense and once again the best defense on Valley High School stadium field that night was the “The Wild Bunch”. The Gators prevailed from start to finish belying the final the score of 13-0.

The Gators lead at half time 6-0 while allowing Penn Hills only one first down deep into the second quarter. The Gator offense “The Machine” did their part by controlling the ball and giving Penn Hills an opportunity to run just 3 plays in the third quarter. When Penn Hills got the ball in the 4th quarter the Gators had built a two touchdown lead.

Penn Hills had high aspirations coming into this game and justifiable so. The Indians featured two of the top running backs in the W.P.I.A.L, Louie Biondi and Dwayne Rideout, who combined were averaging over 200 yards per game. Obviously, “The Wild Bunch” was not intimated or impressed as they held these two featured running backs to a combined 89 yards.

“The Machine” wasted little time getting on the board. Following a very short Indian punt which went out of bounds at the Indians 37, the Gators scored in nine plays. The key play in the drive was converting on a third and six with a clutch pass from quarterback Pete Antimarino to elusive wingback Sammy Nelson. The Gators leading rusher, Kevin Plowman, capped the scoring drive with a one yard plunge. This drive set the tone for the entire game and was summed up in a post game interview with Andy Urbanic, “We could not stop those 3rd down plays all night” groaned the Indians head coach. The Indians only real scoring threat came after a Gator fumbled punt gave the Indians the ball at the Gator 20 yard line. Four plays later Penn Hills turned the ball over on downs at the 14 yard line. Gateway’s second score came in the 4th quarter. Facing a third and 14 at the Indians 15, Antimarino found Plowman drifting out of the backfield with a step on a linebacker. The pass hit Plowman in the chest, and one step later the Gator halfback fell into the endzone for the Gator touchdown.

The loss was particularly frustrating for the Indians who got knocked out of the playoffs in the first round last year by the Gators 22-6. That game was played on a Johnstown Stadium field that had to be snow plowed before kick-off. This year the plowing on the field was done for the Indians compliments of the “The Wild Bunch” and “The Machine” as the Gators rolled to victory number 10. Next the Gators move on to the championship game against Upper St. Clair at Pitt Stadium.

Gateway 20 New Castle 12
The undefeated and 10-0 Gators got their wish as they returned to Pitt Stadium for a rematch against the 1973 W.P.I.A.L. AA Champs, the legendary New Castle Hurricanes. It was sweet revenge for the Gators as they not only beat the team that knocked them off in the ’73 semi-final game, but they earned the right to advance to play Upper St. Clair for the W.P.I AL. Championship.

The 1974 New Castle team was considered by many to be one of the biggest and quickest high school teams in the state. The Hurricanes were lead by Bruce Clark who went on to star at Penn State and the NFL. Bruce was a prime example of the unique combination of size and speed found on the ’74 Hurricane squad. Bruce was an imposing 6’3, 230 lbs. linebacker and his track and field events included shot put, triple jump and pole vault.

The Gators strategy of keeping the mighty Hurricanes off balance by mixing in more of the pass along with a steady running attack proved effective as Gator receivers, Bruce Campbell and Frank Sattler had outstanding games. Two 33 yard pass plays to Campbell infused the Gator offense which, as usual, had plenty of support from a “Wild Bunch” defense that coming into this game had limited foes to 4 points or less, ten times during the season.

The Hurricanes were opportunistic taking advantage of a rare Gator fumble at the Gateway 20 yard line. “The Wild Bunch” stood firm allowing only a field goal. Then another challenge for the Gators arose in the second quarter after a 40 yard Hurricane run brought them to the Gator 23 yard line. After eight plays, the ‘Canes only made it to the Gator 23 yard line where they settled for another field goal to take a 6-0 lead.

In the closing minutes of the second half, quarterback Pete Antimarino got the Gators going through the air. First it was Sattler, an outstanding blocker, who showed his versatility by working free from the ‘Canes aggressive linebackers to catch passes for 22 and 13 yards. Then Antimarino found Campbell blazing downfield for a 33 yard touchdown. Wayne Emerick added the PAT which put the Gators on top 7-6.

At the start of the 2nd half, momentum remained on the side of the Gators as Kevin Plowman hit Campbell in stride on a beautiful half back option play that went for a 32 yard touchdown. The kick was missed but this put the Gators up 13-6 and the black and gold were starting to roll. The Gators added an insurance touchdown early in the 4th quarter after a time consuming 51 yard drive that featured the running of Antimarino,
Johnny Palermo and Plowman. Plowman capped the drive with a 2-yard bolt and Emerick’s PAT culminated the Gator’s scoring offsetting a meaningless touchdown from ‘Cane fullback Jeff Crunkelton with only 55 seconds remaining. “Fantastic win,” understated Coach Antimarino. “I felt our defense could stop their running game and toe to toe they played one helluva ballgame.” Bring on Upper St. Clair!

Gateway 6 Upper St. Clair 6
A Pitt Stadium crowd of 8,500 watched Gateway Gators and Upper St. Clair Panthers play to a 6-6 tie giving the W.P.I.A.L. its first class AA Co-Championship since 1953 when Harbrack played Donora to a scoreless tie on the same Pitt Stadium turf. When the game was over, watching a dejected Gateway Gator football team slowly walk off the field you would have thought they had just suffered a lost instead of just having earned
the right to be called the 1974 W.P.I.A.L. Co-Champions.

“We wanted the title,” a humble Antimarino remarked. “Our kids wanted it so bad. This was something they’ve worked hard for all year. Most of them were confused when the game ended in a tie. But the coaches knew there would be no sudden death. After going 11-0, winning the West Penn Conference, and beating strong Penn Hills and New Castle teams back to back, this was a bitter pill to swallow. I don’t want to call this a loss, but it’s almost the same as one to these kids. They’re so used to winning.”

Western Pennsylvania’s two “powerhouse” football teams played even-up during the first two periods. With 7:19 remaining in the 3rd period, John Palermo went over from one yard out to make the score 6-0 Gateway. Palermo’s T.D. capped an eight play 30 yard drive that began after Larry Mignogna intercepted a USC pass. Coach Antimarino opted for a two point conversion in an effort to put more pressure on USC. Unfortunately,
quarterback Pete Antimarino’ s pass fail incomplete in the endzone.

With two minutes left in the game the Panthers got hot and began a drive from the mid field stripe. Their scoring drive covered 50 yards and 10 plays. Pitt recruit and Panther star running back Jeff Delaney ran the ball six times during the march and caught a pass for 12 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 5 yard line USC’s quarterback threw a perfect pass in the end zone to his tight end for 6 points. The Gators breathed a sigh of relief
when the extra point drifted wide and the game was deadlocked 6-6 with 1 :39 remaining in the game. Gateway, fought back on the arm of Antimarino driving from their own 30 to the USC 33 as the clock ran out. “I’m proud of these kids,” said coach Antimarino. For what they accomplished this season they’re still number one in my book.”


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