Playoff loss ends Gateway's quest for state, national titles in Week 13

Editor's note: ESPN will release the ESPN RISE FAB 50 national football rankings to start each week of the regular season. The rankings combine three previously independent polls and are compiled by a panel of voters, including Doug Huff (Wheeling, W.Va.), Jon Mahoney (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Sheldon Shealer (Myersville, Md.), Brian Stumpf (Torrance, Calif.) and Mark Tennis (Stockton, Calif.). Kynon Codrington, Christopher Lawlor, Mike Loveday, Bob Masajo and Paul Muyskens also contributed to the poll.

When the weather starts to turn cold and damp in many parts of the country just before Thanksgiving, there are some teams that seem to thrive and others -- especially those built on speed and quickness -- that sputter.

A good example of that was the stunning upset of nationally ranked Gateway (Monroeville, Pa.) last Saturday night at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Gateway never got untracked in its Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League Class AAAA final against Bethel Park and suffered its first loss of the season, 10-6.

The defeat ended any hopes Gateway had of a mythical national title and sent Bethel Park (13-0) on to this week's PIAA state quarterfinals where it will meet State College, which is also unbeaten.

Bethel Park moved up to No. 28 in this week's ESPN RISE FAB 50, while Gateway hung on at No. 46 -- quite a tumble from the fourth spot. The team's final ranking will now be determined by how Bethel Park fares for the rest of the playoffs.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Lyle Marsh led the grind-it-out offense of Bethel Park with 27 carries for 113 yards and one touchdown.

In addition to Bethel Park, there were five other newcomers in this week's new rankings: Hightower of Fort Bend, Texas (fresh off its win over previous No. 17 and unbeaten North Shore); Pearland of Pearland, Texas; Homestead of Mequon, Wis.; State College, Pa.; and Oakton of Vienna, Va.

Another team on the rise is new No. 21 Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, Calif. The Knights (11-0) made their FAB 50 debut just three weeks ago, jumped up to No. 33 two weeks ago and are now on the outside edge of the top 20.

Several final top 20 positions will likely be nailed down this week as more state championships are decided. The most significant for the national rankings will be Ohio's Division I state final Saturday night at Fawcett Stadium in Canton -- a matchup of No. 10 St. Ignatius of Cleveland and No. 16 Elder of Cincinnati. One group of Floridians rooting for Elder are the fans connected to St. Thomas Aquinas of Fort Lauderdale. St. Thomas Aquinas' mythical national championship hopes are pinned on Elder, as the Florida team delivered Elder's only loss of the season.

Results as of Nov. 22.

Also Receiving Votes: Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) 11-1, Rocky Mount (Rocky Mount, N.C.) 12-0, Timpview (Provo, Utah) 14-0, Trinity (Lousville, Ky.) 11-1.

Dropped Out: Previous No. 17 North Shore (Galena, Texas); No. 24 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.); No. 28 Arrowhead (Hartland, Wis.); No. 39 Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.); No. 44 Northside (Warner
Robins, Ga.); No. 49 Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio); No. 50 Columbus (Miami, Fla.).

*Ties in points are broken according to which team was ranked higher by a majority of panelists. Asterisk by win-loss record indicates season is complete.