WOODBURY HEIGHTS (N.J.) - There was a new attitude to the Gateway Regional High School football team as it took the field for its season opener under the direction of former Cherry Hill East coach Andrew Daley.
The Gators made Daley's first appearance a special one as they rolled past Haddon Township, 19-0, on Thursday night.
The game remained scoreless after the first quarter, but that was short lived as Ty Binck knocked a 24-yard field goal through the uprights to give Gateway a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter. Gateway's Sean Simmons extended the lead on defense after he blocked a punt out of the back of the end zone to put the Gators up 5-0 prior to the fourth quarter.
Simmons put the team on his back in the final quarter as he punched in an eight-yard rushing touchdown and converted the two-point conversion on a pass to Aidan Bender to put the contest out of reach. Tyler Mills scored an 86-yard rushing touchdown to help establish a 19-0 lead over Haddon Township.
Simmons finished the game with 140 total yards of offense including 59 yards on the ground and 81 through the air. Under the direction of Daley, Simmons feels his game is in the process of taking a step to the next level.
"I feel like coach Daley is the coach I needed to improve as a player," Simmons said. "Tonight, I was just going out there and trying to make plays for my team to win."
Gateway's Sean Simmons threw for 81 yards, rushed for 59 yards and scored a touchdown in Gateway's 19-0 victory over Haddon Township in the football game played at Gateway Regional High School in Woodbury Heights, New Jersey on Thursday, August 31, 2023. Chris Baker/D2 Sports Network
Jumping from Group 5 football to Group 1 can be a drastic change for a head coach. Daley was open to the adjustment and ready to take on the next opportunity.
"The biggest difference is definitely roster size," Daley said. "I came in and told the players, this isn't a rebuilding year, we will compete every game, and I plan to stick by that and put these kids in the best possible situations to win weekly."