By Mike White | Saturday, Oct. 31, 2:10 p.m.
It's not unusual for a football player to come back and watch his alma mater play. So it was no surprise to see former Gateway star Cam Saddler on the sideline for last night's showdown between the Gators and McKeesport.
But Saddler brought a friend with him - Pitt running back Dion Lewis.
Cam Saddler, left, with Pitt teammate Dion Lewis. Photo courtesy of Post-Gazette photographer Matt Freed.
Saddler and Lewis watched the game from the sideline. What stuck out to me was Lewis' size. I knew he wasn't big, but Lewis and Saddler are about the same size in height, although Lewis is thicker. When I mentioned to the two that they were the same size, Saddler laughed and said, "See, I tell you all the time that I'm bigger than you."
Saddler is one of the most colorful speakers I've ever dealt with in 30 years of covering high school football.
At Lewis' size, it is somewhat amazing what he is accomplishing. But it's another example of how, it seems more and more these days, there is room for small people like Lewis - and Saddler - in major-college football.
Shell gets 2,000
Hopewell sophomore running back Rushel Shell went over 2,000 yards rushing for the season. He is only the third WPIAL running back in 30 years to rush for 2,000 yards in the regular season.
McKeesport will drop
I heard some people this week say if McKeesport lost to Gateway, McKeesport still might get the No. 2 or 3 seed for the WPIAL playoffs. No way now. McKeesport was handled by Gateway. I'm not saying McKeesport isn't good, but the Tigers didn't show much against Gateway.
Even if McKeesport gave Gateway a better game, I still think McKeesport would've gotten a No. 4 or 5 seed. But now I'm certain. Gateway will get No. 1, Woodland Hills No. 2 and Bethel Park No. 3. North Allegheny and McKeesport will get the 4-5 seeds, and it doesn't really matter much what order they are in because 16-team brackets are designed to have 4-5 play each other in the second round.
More Gateway stuff
* It says here that Gateway junior linebacker-tight end-receiver Armstead Williams will be pretty heavily recruited next year. He's that good.
* This is the first time in school history that Gateway had back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. The Gators' other undefeated regular seasons were 1965, 1969, 1972, 1974, 1980 and 1986.
Where Kalkstein stands
Someone sent me a comment, wondering what quarterbacks are in front of Rob Kalkstein on the WPIAL's all-time passing list. Kalkstein is now fifth with 5,800 yards. Pine-Richland's Jake Long is fourth with 5,830. The only three quarterbacks in WPIAL history who have thrown for 6,000 career yards are Sto-Rox's Adam DiMIchele (6,741), South Fayette's Andrew DiDonato (6,573) and Steel Valley's Luke Getsy (6,010). If Gateway would make it to the PIAA championship game, Kalkstein would seemingly have a shot at the record. That would give him six more games to get 941 yards. He could do that.
I think Gateway has an excellent shot to make it to the WPIAL final. This team is beginning to look maybe as good as last year's team that lost in the WPIAL final.
Should they be in?
I keep going back and forth about the number of teams that make the WPIAL playoffs. On one hand, taking four teams from each conference does create some more interest for a number of schools. On the other hand, there are some bad teams that make the playoffs.
The funny thing is it's the biggest classification that has the worst teams in the playoffs. Baldwin made it with a 2-7 record. Sorry, but no 2-7 teams should be in the playoffs. Plum and Penn-Trafford also made it with 3-6 records. All three of those teams are in Class AAAA.
But then you have a team like Springdale. The Dynamos are 7-2, but would not make the playoffs if the WPIAL didn't take four teams from each conference. But Springdale qualified as the No. 4 team in Class A.
All this being said, I think the WPIAL better start looking at some alternative playoff plans at some point in the near future. Because I truly believe that within five years, the PIAA will either shorten the season by a week, or there will be six classifications. That will put a kink in the WPIAL's postseason plans.
Photo of the year?
Take a look at the photo below from PG photographer Matt Freed. I think it's one of the best of the season. It is McKeesport's Julian Brown taking down Gateway's Dayonne Nunley - by the locks.
I was on the sideline when this happened. I wondered if a penalty would be called. It wasn't. Remember years ago when an opponent pulled Troy Polamalu by the hair. That's what this play reminded me of.