Josephs returns to bolster defense for WPIAL Class 5A champion Gateway

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018 | 5:18 PM


While the Gateway offense grabbed a lot of the headlines last fall during the team’s run to the WPIAL Class 5A championship and the PIAA finals in Hershey, the Gators defense also made its mark with big plays and big moments throughout the 2017 campaign.

Jeremiah Josephs was at the forefront in that effort.

The rising senior defensive back led Gateway in tackles with 126 (76 solo) and added a team-best seven interceptions. Both totals also were among the best in the WPIAL.

The Gators only lost two from last year’s defensive unit, and Josephs said it should be strong again.

“That gives us the momentum and focus that we can be one of the better defenses in the WPIAL and the state if we execute like we should,” said Josephs, a Miami (Ohio) commit.

Gateway’s main goal this summer, Josephs said, is to prepare hard to go back to back in WPIAL Class 5A. Josephs said he knows it won’t be easy, as the likes of WPIAL runner-up and conference rival Penn-Trafford will be there to challenge for the crown.

“It felt so good to be a part of that (WPIAL title team), get the job done and bring back the championship to Gateway,” Josephs said.

Work in the weight room, workouts with his teammates and seven-on-seven showcases, Josephs said, have helped bring the team closer.

“We just want to do everything together to make us better and the best we can be in the fall. We want more this season,” he said.

Gateway got the chance to test its mettle Monday and Tuesday in seven-on-seven action against Baltimore-region powerhouse teams Archbishop Spalding and Calvert Hall.

Spalding recently won the Penn State seven-on-seven tournament, and Calvert Hall did the same at the University of North Carolina showcase.

“We always want to face great competition at these seven-on-sevens,” Josephs said. “We want to face the best.”

Josephs also hopes to do even better on offense this fall. He was a compliment to Courtney Jackson in the passing game last year as he caught 53 passes for 582 yards and five touchdowns.

Josephs said he is going into the 2018 season with a clearer mind after making his college decision final in April.

He received several Division I offers but said the recruiting experience with Miami (Ohio) was the tipping point that led him to give the verbal nod to the Redhawks over such schools as Mid-American Conference foes Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Toledo and Bowling Green.

“It means a lot to be able to go into my senior season with my mind clear and already know where I am going,” Josephs said. “There’s not that pressure of still being recruited by these other schools. Now, I am just working and focusing on the season.”

Gateway coach Don Holl knows full well how valuable Josephs will be on both sides of the ball and on special teams for the team’s hopes of repeating in 5A.

“Jeremiah has a really neat personality and a good rapport with the other kids on the team,” Holl said. “He brings a unique confidence to the group. He’s taken on a bigger leadership role in the locker room and on the field. That will be key for us to have all that he brings to the team on the field this season.”

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