New coach eager to turn around Brownsville’s program

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Monday, August 16, 2021 | 6:01 AM


Others have tried. Now, it’s Brian Gates’ turn.

Gates, one of the school’s more recognizable names in sports, is taking his own stab at resurrecting the moribund football program at Brownsville, which hasn’t finished above .500 for a season in 21 years.

Once in charge, Gates was surprised by the reception he’d gotten from his newfound players.

“It’s strange how certain people have come out,” he said. “For instance, a couple seniors came out and said they’d give it a shot. They haven’t left yet.”

Brownsville hired Gates, 36, in March to replace former Ringgold star Ramont Small, who resigned after one winless season.

Gates is a former four-sport athlete at Brownsville in football, basketball, baseball and track and field from 2000-03.

After graduating from Duquesne, where he was recruited in track and field and football, Gates began coaching in 2008 as a high school assistant at Brownsville and later served as an assistant at Frazier.

He returned to Brownsville and was its defensive coordinator for two years before resigning after the 2019 season.

“I took a year off last year, and I missed doing it,” said Gates, who also works as a probation officer in Fayette County. “I would watch a game on Friday night and start to get the itch again.

“The job opened up and I thought about it for a long time. I kept asking myself, ‘How can I look at my kids and say I never tried?’ I started looking around for (assistant) coaches, and one after another kept popping up from nowhere. I said, ‘Maybe it’s time to do this.’”

Gates has taken over one of the WPIAL’s least successful programs in recent years.

Brownsville has won just 26 games since Gates, as a freshman quarterback, and the 2000 team went 5-5 and qualified for the WPIAL playoffs.

The Falcons haven’t been there since.

In fact, Brownsville, which last season moved up in class to 3A and began playing in the Interstate Conference, hasn’t enjoyed a winning season since going 8-3 in 1999, a year after the Falcons won a share of the Class 2A Century Conference title and finished 10-2 overall.

“For where we’re at at this point in time, I couldn’t be any happier,” Gates said. “Who knows? Maybe we can transform ourselves from “The Bad News Bears” to a contending team for the playoffs.”

When Brownsville plays its first game under Gates on Sept. 3 at McGuffey, Gates hopes to feel the same excitement as he’s seen in preseason workouts.

“A lot of these guys have bought into the program,” he said. “A lot of them have been showing up on the daily. It’s a whole new world for these guys. They’ve pretty much handled what we’ve laid out. It’s a good thing to see, and it’s actually really, really refreshing.”

Gates called his senior class “distinguishingly athletic” and was quick to single out senior Ayden Teeter, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end/defensive end.

“This is his fourth year as a starter,” Gates said. “Ayden is as strong as an ox, and he’s very athletic.”

Kent State and Rhode Island are among the colleges showing interest in Teeter, Gates said.

And while Gates also is high on senior wide receiver/defensive back Chris Davis and junior guard/defensive end Mario Grayson, his enthusiasm reaches another pitch when mentioning the names of pair of freshmen challenging for starting spots.

Christopher Climes, a 6-1, 240-pound tackle, and Antwan Black, a 6-1 skill position player working out at running back, quarterback and wide receiver, represent what Gates said are the types of attitudes players need to lift Brownsville from its depths.

“I believe both of these young men have great high school careers ahead of them,” Gates said.

Senior Rayshawn Walker and sophomore AJ Evans, both receivers, “have been taking the lead in the weight room,” Gates said. “They continue to show the way, and it’s contagious.”

Walker also is a cornerback and Evans a middle linebacker.

“We’ve got a lot of athletes,” Gates said. “It’s just that I expected a lot of mental mistakes from this group. We need to keep working on the small things that cause those types of mistakes, the kind you would expect an inexperienced team to make.”

Brownsville

Coach: Brian Gates

2020 record: 0-7, 0-5 in Class 3A Interstate Conference

All-time record: 415-501-34

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

9.3 at McGuffey, 7

9.10 Laurel Highlands, 7

9.17 Elizabeth-Forward*, 7

9.24 at South Park*, 7

10.1 South Allegheny*, 7

10.8 at Mt. Pleasant*, 7

10.15 Southmoreland*, 7

10.22 at Yough*, 7

10.29 at East Allegheny, 7

*Conference game

FAST FACTS

• Brownsville hasn’t won a conference championship in 23 years. The Falcons shared the 1998 WPIAL Class 2A Century Conference title with Charleroi, both with 6-1 records.

• Brownsville hasn’t won more than two games in a season since a 4-5 record in 2005. Since then, the Falcons have averaged just one victory per season over a 15-year span.

• Ramont Small’s only season as coach at Brownsville in 2020 resulted in an 0-7 record.

• The Falcons were outscored by an average of nearly 43 points per game amid the 2020 covid-disrupted season. Their scoring offense averaged just 4.9 points, the fifth-lowest output in the WPIAL.

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