Football: Gateway capsule



Coach: Ashour Peera, 1st season

Last year: 7-3 overall, 5-1 in 5A Aurora League (lost in first round of 5A state playoffs)

Players to watch: Austin Hall, 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, S/TE, sr.; Lance Savage, 6-0, 180, QB/LB, sr.; Jonah Mitchell, 6-2, 210, TE/LB, sr.; Devin Johnson, 5-11, 205, C/OLB, sr.; Quintavis Styles, 5-8, 170, RB/WR/Ath/DB/S, sr.; Octavis Styles, 5-9, 175, DB/WR, sr.; Isaac Fuqua sr., 5-10, 185, ILB, sr.; Junior Gutierrez, 6-0, 270, OG/DT, sr.; Jack Engelson, 5-11, 250, OG/DT, sr.; Markese Briggs, 5-8, 165, WR/DB, sr.; Calvin Weber, 5-9, 175, RB/LB, sr.; Nyerre Williams, 6-3, 170, QB/S, sr.; Daniel Saye, 6-1, 195, DT, sr.; LaBrian Miler, 6-0, 235, LB/OT, jr.; Steven Crews, 6-0, 235, DT/OT, jr.

2013 outlook: Just about everything is new for the Gateway football program in 2013, from the head coach — Ashour Peera, who took over after longtime coach Justin Hoffman left for Smoky Hill — to the uniforms, a cutting edge look designed by Nike, and the playing style is also set to change with the new staff. A whopping 26 seniors graduated from last season’s team, which went 7-3 and earned a home game in the Class 5A state playoffs before losing to Regis Jesuit. The returning players have embraced the new philosophy of Peera, who comes in from powerhouse Miami Northwestern High School, a program that regularly churns out Division I caliber players such as Louisville star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Peera has done his best to help Gateway players get their names on the radar of college programs for possible scholarships if that is what they chose. He’s trying to emphasize that over the wins and losses, but believes that their work toward that goal will help the victories come. The biggest change for Gateway comes on offense, where the veer offense run at the school for close to two decades will be replaced by a spread look that is about more balance. With last season’s starter, Tate Johnson, graduated, the Olys had to audition four different players for the quarterback position, with senior Lance Savage showing the most comfort with the new system to draw the opening day start for Gateway. Savage is capable of big gainers with his legs and when he throws, it helps to have huge targets like TEs Austin Hall (6-4, 205 with basketball player hands) and Jonah Mitchell (6-2, 210). Brothers Quintavis and Octavis Styles — transfers from Florida — bolster a core of skill players offensively that also includes fleet WR Markese Briggs on the perimeter and Calvin Weber in the backfield. The Olys line lost star Zack Golditch, a Colorado State signee, to graduation, but the interior core of center Devin Johnson and guards Jack Engelson and Junior Gutierrez are experienced in the trenches, which should help juniors LaBrian Miller and Steven Crews as they join the unit. Gateway finished second at the annual Hog Wars strength and teamwork competition over the summer. Defensively, Peera expects his group to be effective stopping the run with his veteran linemen playing two ways — plus senior Daniel Saye — along with a corps of linebackers that includes Mitchell, Savage and ball-seeking senior Isaac Fuqua. The defensive backfield is a work in progress, but Hall is a key figure back there and Overland transfer Nyerre Williams could make an impact as well at safety. Depth is the major concern for Peera, who has much fewer numbers in the program than he’s used to in Florida.

Quoting the coach: “I just got the job in March, so we’re a little behind from the start. But we’re making up ground and I think every week you are going to see a better product. …This is definitely one of the hardest working groups I’ve ever been around. With that being said, we’re also very inexperienced and don’t have many returning seniors because of graduation. The players are also learning a completely different philosophy. Our outlook right now is that I think we’re going to have a good season as far as guys increasing their knowledge, playing together and getting better each week.”

2013 schedule: Home games in all caps (played at APS Stadium): Friday, Aug. 30 — SMOKY HILL, 4 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 6 – vs. Northglenn at Five Star Stadium, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 14 — CHEROKEE TRAIL, 1 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 21 – WESTMINSTER, 2 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 28 — vs. Denver East at All-City Stadium, 4 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 4 — AURORA CENTRAL, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 11 – RANGEVIEW, 6 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 18 — at Hinkley, 6 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 25 — at Adams City, 7 p.m.