Gage Galuska part of turnaround season for Hampton football

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Saturday, October 10, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Hampton three-sport senior Gage Galuska plays football in the fall, wrestles in the winter and runs track in the spring.

Other than a two-week stretch in early June, he is always on the go.

But in the second half against Greensburg Salem in Week 4 on Oct. 2, he really got busy.

Galuska returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter to start a 35-point surge on the way to a 42-9 victory. The return came moments after the 6-foot-3, 175-pound wing back/outside linebacker blocked an Greensburg Salem extra-point attempt.

“Two plays back-to-back, bang bang,” coach Jacque DeMatteo said. “It’s nice when things like that happen to a good kid.”

Galuska wasn’t done. In the fourth quarter, he added his second interception of the game, returning it 40 yards for a touchdown. His first interception, at the Hampton 5-yard line, thwarted a first-half Greensburg Salem drive.

With Galuska’s help, the Talbots brought a 3-1 record into their Oct. 9 game against visiting Plum. Hampton already has won more games this year than in any of the past four seasons.

During their first three-game winning streak since September 2015, they have posted their first shutout victory in five years (17-0 over Armstrong) and their most lopsided win since 2014.

“It feels pretty good my senior year, after going 2-8 all three previous seasons,” Galuska said following the Talbots’ Oct. 6 practice at Fridley Field. “It feels good to finally be 3-1.”

Galuska isn’t easing up after the covid pandemic ruined his junior track season. He is among the top leaders on the football team, whether it was his game-breaking plays or something as inconspicuous as his downfield block on Jayden Resch’s 50-yard touchdown catch and run.

“He’s more of quiet leader,” DeMatteo said. “He leads by his actions, by his presence. Kids look up to him. He’s a kid that they see as a really good athlete, so automatically he has that certain amount of respect. But he also earns and gains that respect because of how he carries himself.”

Galuska is one of the top 400-meter runners in WPIAL Class AAA, finishing fourth as a sophomore, and owns the Hampton school record with a time of 50.40. He holds a modest career wrestling record of 47-47, but the grueling training for the sport carries over into football.

His only break from athletics comes in the first two weeks in June, between the end of track season and the start of football summer camp. Galuska, who visited Waynesburg last month, hopes to play football and run track in college.

“It’s definitely a grind,” he said, “but I also like having something to do. I’d rather go to practice than just go home and sit there all day.”

Galuska owns an impressive pedigree. His father, Gary, was a two-sport star at Hampton and a two-time all-conference linebacker at Washington & Jefferson. His mother, Amy (Nicotra), ran cross country and played softball at North Catholic.

“That’s where the boy gets his speed,” Amy said, “from his mom.”

DeMatteo said the synergy of Galuska’s other two sports combine on the football field.

“When you put together that grit and toughness in the wrestling room, the speed in track and you put it into football, in an athletic kid, you get someone who makes plays,” he said, “and you get a kid like Gage.”

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