5 things to watch in Week 5: Gateway returns to ‘normal’

Friday, October 9, 2020 | 7:00 AM

After a two-week coronavirus hiatus, Gateway’s football team is getting back to normal. Or as close to normal as possible in a week that starts on Wednesday and ends with a game Sunday night.

“It’s not normal but nothing’s been normal, right?” Gateway coach Don Holl said. “We’re just going to be grateful for where we’re at. We’ll get a chance to get our team back together and hopefully play some more football games. And everyone’s going to be healthy when it’s all said and done.”

After an athlete tested positive, Gateway was forced to cancel games against Pine-Richland and Latrobe. The team hasn’t played a game since Sept. 18.

The Gators (2-0, 1-0) resume their schedule at 7 p.m. Sunday at Antimarino Stadium against Penn-Trafford (3-1, 2-0) for first place in the Class 5A Big East. Gateway is ranked second in WPIAL Class 5A and Penn-Trafford is third.

This matchup decided the conference title a season ago.

“We’ve been trying to mentally do stuff with a Zoom meeting at practice time each day,” Holl said. “We’ve gone through different installs, different things. … Most of our core stuff obviously is in. It just becomes specific to an opponent or a game plan.”

Remarkably, Gateway wasn’t the only defending WPIAL champion absent from the Week 4 schedule.

Clairton missed one game over covid-19 concerns but returned to practice Tuesday. Thomas Jefferson’s would-be opponent last week, Uniontown, canceled for reasons unrelated to coronavirus.

Clairton hosts Imani Christian on Friday, and Thomas Jefferson plays Laurel Highlands.

Holl compared Gateway’s return from shutdown to when a player misses time with an injury.

“We lost repetitions, which no coach wants to lose that,” Holl said, “but we tried to make the most of what we had.”

Waiting for Friday

Gov. Tom Wolf increased gathering sizes statewide this week, but those new limits didn’t take effect until Friday. Penn Hills was scheduled to visit Martorelli Stadium on Thursday night, but after the governor’s announcement, North Hills delayed the game a day to allow more people into the stadium.

This is North Hills’ final regular-season home game and school administrators wanted to let the entire football team dress for the contest, athletic director Pat Weber said. They’ll also allow the entire band and all cheerleaders to attend with room left for parents.

Outdoor facilities that hold 2,000 or fewer people can allow 25% of capacity, those in the 2,001 to 10,000 range are allowed 20% and places that hold more than 10,000 are allowed 15% up to 7,500 individuals.

Previously, all outdoor gatherings were limited to 250 individuals.

Keeping pace in 6A

With much uncertainty surrounding the WPIAL Class 6A playoff picture, this week’s game between Seneca Valley and Canon-McMillan in Canonsburg will give the winner a boost of confidence.

Both teams are 2-1 and tied for third in the conference standings behind North Allegheny (2-0) and Central Catholic (3-1). Three teams have one conference win: Mt. Lebanon (1-2), Hempfield (1-3) and Norwin (1-3).

Only four teams qualify for the WPIAL playoffs in Class 6A.

The postseason picture is blurry because four games in the largest classification were canceled this season over covid-19 concerns leaving the standings unbalanced.

Avenging a loss?

Peters Township lost once in the 2019 regular season: a 21-13 victory by Moon that ultimately saw the teams share the conference title. A year later, the Indians face a very similar situation.

Peters Township (3-0, 2-0) visits Moon (3-1, 1-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday while holding a one-game lead over the Tigers in the Allegheny 6.

The Class 5A conference has four teams with one loss. West Allegheny (1-1) visits Upper St. Clair (1-1) on Friday, and Bethel Park (0-2) hosts South Fayette (1-1) on Friday.

Undefeated no more

Someone’s “0” has got to go.

There are three first-place matchups Friday night between tied teams with undefeated conference records.

Chartiers Valley (4-0, 2-0) visits Aliquippa (4-0, 2-0) in the Class 4A Parkway Conference.

Central Valley (4-0, 2-0) hosts Keystone Oaks (3-1, 2-0) in the Class 3A Northwest 6.

Western Beaver (3-0, 2-0) visits Burgettstown (2-1, 2-0) in the Class 2A Three Rivers.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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