Football: 2017 Gateway football team at a glance

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Senior running back Kevin Traylor Jr., left, and quarterback Xavier Delk give the Gateway football team a potentially explosive duo in the 2017 season. New head coach Taylor Calvert believes the Olys will be better on both sides of the football than they were during last season’s 2-8 campaign. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

AURORA | The 2017 Gateway football team at a glance:

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

GATEWAY 

Mascot: Olympians

Coach: Taylor Calvert

Last year: 2-8 overall (1-4 in Plains League), missed Class 4A state playoffs

FOOTBALL 2O17: GATEWAY OLYMPIANS

2017 season outlook: Taylor Calvert loves to coach football in the Aurora Public Schools district and he’s back at it again in 2017 as the new head coach at Gateway. The former Aurora Central head coach and Rangeview assistant has a new lease on life as a coach and he’s loving the situation he ended up with in the Olys, who finished 2-8 last season in their first year transitioning down from Class 5A to 4A. Gateway certainly doesn’t lack for athletes and Calvert believes his first wave of skill players has a chance to be one of the best groups around, while the key will be what happens up front. Senior quarterback Xavier Delk offers a similar run-pass skill set possessed by the quarterback Calvert coached at Rangeview — Jaelin Odegard — which leads him to believe the Olys could be quite dangerous on offense. Delk — an All-Plains League second team selection — accounted for about 1,000 yards of total offense last season and six touchdowns, while the return of senior running back Kevin Traylor Jr. should take some pressure off him. A first team all-league pick, Traylor Jr. led the team in rushing with 791 yards and five touchdowns last season and also caught 22 passes out of the backfield, where he is a threat to go the distance at any time. Senior Ajonte Manlove (team-leading 389 yards receiving, 4 TDs in 2016 when he earned all-league second team accolades) and senior Sulu Gonzales offer more weapons, while seniors Houston Harper and Brian Gutierrez key things up front. With Rangeview, Calvert devised a plan that helped the Raiders score 52 points against Gateway, but from the other side he thinks the Olys will be “vastly” improved defensively. With a large number of players set to play both ways, the defensive backfield will be a strength with Manlove, Taylor Jr., Gonzales and a little bit of Delk should be able to stick with most teams in the passing game. Senior Preston Hoffman’s play at linebacker will be important as he was an All-Plains League second team selection last season as was senior place kicker Erick Torres, a soccer player who is a definite asset in special teams.

Schedule breakdown: Gateway faces the same challenging schedule as it had in 2016 with a couple of particularly significant stretches. Back-to-back games against Vista PEAK (Sept. 21) and Rangeview (Sept. 28) loom large considering the Olys lost in lopsided fashion to both last season, while the Rangeview game has the coveted Anvil traveling trophy at stake. In Plains League play, it doesn’t get much tougher than consecutive contests against Heritage (Oct. 13) and Chatfield (Oct. 20), which combined to beat Gateway 91-12 last season.

2017 GATEWAY FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

Home games bold and uppercased (home games played at Aurora Public Schools Stadium): Friday, Sept. 1 — at Littleton, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 9 — at Grand Junction Central, 1 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 14 — PONDEROSA, 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 21 — vs. Vista PEAK at APS Stadium, 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 28 — RANGEVIEW, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 6 — vs. Dakota Ridge at Jeffco Stadium, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 13 — HERITAGE, 4 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 20 — vs. Chatfield at Jeffco Stadium, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 27 — ADAMS CITY, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 4 — GOLDEN, 4 p.m.