Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer return with a breakdown of the two games as part of the Sollenberger Classic. Can Bishop Gorman win its first national game of the year against Arizona's Chaparral High? Moapa Valley also challenges Show Low at the University of Phoenix stadium this weekend.
A Las Vegas-area product hasn’t started at quarterback in a Division I college football game since the mid-1990s when Jon Denton was under center for UNLV.
He’s also on track to shatter every significant Nevada passing record in the process.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Solomon, who is 17 touchdown passes and 1,559 yards away from eclipsing the large-school classification record of Canyon Springs’ DeVonte Christopher, is one of the 26 athletes on the preseason All-Sun team. Gorman opens Saturday in Phoenix at the Sollenberger Classic against Chaparral High of Scottsdale, Ariz. Most other area schools’ seasons begin Aug. 26.
For as dominant as Solomon has been the past two seasons, expect an even more polished performance this year. When he burst onto the scene in 2009, much of his success could be attributed to talent because he had a limited time learning the offense.
“You are really going to see the full package with him this year,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “He really has a good football sense. He is a sharp kid. This year, the offense is in, everything is in. He has audibles he can make.”
Solomon has passed for three or more touchdowns in 13 of his 30 games despite often not playing in the second half when Gorman has comfortable leads. Still, there was one game where his performance didn’t resemble that of a future college quarterback.
Against Hamilton High of Arizona in last year’s Sollenberger Classic, Solomon completed just 5 of 16 passes for 58 yards and an interception. It was one of 10 interceptions he’s thrown and the only time he hasn’t had triple-digit passing yards.
On the game’s first series, Solomon experienced something he never expected — a hostile crowd. Hamilton students made the trip to Flagstaff, Ariz., for the game and were so loud during Gorman’s initial possession, the Gaels were flagged for three false starts and one delay of game penalty.
“In that game, mentally I wasn’t there,” he said. “All those fans, the noise. I was so distracted I didn’t know what to do. Fifty-eight yards, that’s embarrassing for me. Let’s just say I wasn’t prepared for that game. I didn’t work hard enough. I was too lazy. I was being so hyped. That freshman QB who is a stud. It made me overconfident.”
Solomon can make amends for the blemish Saturday against Chaparral, which is one of three ranked opponents Gorman will face this year on national television.
“He is a good quarterback who works hard,” said Marc Philippi, Gorman’s captain. “I trust him as a leader. Even though he is a (class) year below me, I look up to him.”
Here's a look at the rest of the team the preseason All-Sun team.
Solomon has passed for 4,445 yards and 60 touchdowns in his first two season as the Gaels’ signal caller. He needs 1,559 yards and 17 touchdowns to become the large-school division’s all-time leading passer.
Powell has rushed for 2,782 yards and 46 touchdowns the past two years. More important, he rises to the occasion in the big games, gaining 196 yards last year against nationally ranked Hamilton High of Arizona and 113 yards and two touchdowns against powerhouse De La Salle of Northern California.
Victor has been a key contributor at perennial power Las Vegas High since his freshman season, rushing for more than 2,000 yards the past two years with 24 touchdowns. Also dangerous in the passing game, he has 52 career receptions for 535 yards and six touchdowns.
Smith, who caught 38 passes for 935 yards and 16 touchdowns last fall, is a top college prospect for the class of 2013. He’s played every game the past two years for Gorman, catching 48 passes for 340 yards in 2009.
Spencer had 50 receptions for 676 yards and five touchdowns last year, and was an all-Southeast Division selection.
Arguably the most physically-put-together player in the town, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Webb averaged 22.3 yards per catch last year.
With scholarship offers from the likes of Auburn, Notre Dame and USC, Stanley is the most coveted recruit in Las Vegas. A talented athlete, the 6-foot-6, 280-pound tackle also starts on the Gaels’ nationally ranked basketball team and could play college basketball if he wanted.
The 6-foot-6, 325-pound tackle is one of the valley’s most sought-after college prospects, impressing recruiters with his strength, mobility and relatively lean frame. At a scouting event this spring, he showed his sheer strength in lifting 185 pounds 27 times — well above the national average.
One of the top offensive lineman in the state’s most respected league, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound George helped pave the way for Arbor View to win its first nine games last fall and reach the Sunset Region semifinals.
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Scoggins has started every game the past two years for Gorman’s back-to-back state title teams. He has scholarship offers from UNLV, Fresno State and San Jose State.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Elgaard will lead the blocking scheme this fall for Palo Verde’s potent rushing attack, which is always one of the state’s most productive.
Mattox, a converted soccer player, drilled 10 of 13 fields goals last year and made 24 extra points. He was named to the sophomore All-American team by Maxpreps.com
The top player in the Southeast Division, Marshall had 21 kickoff returns for 616 yards last year, including the eventual game-winner in a big win against Canyon Springs. Marshall also rushed for 1,728 yards and 17 touchdowns, was a part-time punter, started at defensive back and completed 3 of 4 passes at quarterback.
An intimidating force on the defensive line, the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Chaisson recorded eight sacks in 2010 and had 5.8 tackles per game.
A force on both sides on the line, the 6-foot-1, 335-pound Taeao is a significant reason why Liberty will be in position to make another deep playoff run.
Card, who averaged 5.4 tackles per game last year in helping Silverado reach the playoffs, is a major upgrade defensively for a Mojave team that has recorded one winning season since opening in 1996.
Hutchins, who will also start at tight end for the two-time defending state champions, has blossomed into one of their best defenders. In a defense that has to replace several key contributors, his experience will be heavily relied upon.
Pili was a key cog in Centennial’s team that advanced to the Sunset semifinals last year. One of the area’s best younger prospects, he’s already verbally committed to BYU after shining this summer at the Cougars’ camp.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Garcia-Williams, who has a scholarship offer from Southern Utah, is one of several proven defenders for perennial power Palo Verde in its quest for another Northwest Division crown.
Liberty’s defense will be big and physical, with players such as Tuilagi leading the charge for the defending Sunrise Regional champions.
Henry, who is one of the Las Vegas Valley’s most underrated players, had 144 tackles the past two years. Enough said.
The speedy Beaulieu is the best player on one of the state’s best teams. Not bad for a junior.
Gorman captain and defensive team leader, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Philippi is a three-year starter and one of UNLV’s top local recruiting targets.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Eason had 57 tackles and four interceptions last fall. A virtual unknown entering the season, Eason now has a scholarship offer from Colorado and is being recruited by other schools.
Lindemann, who also starts at linebacker for Del Sol, was an all-Southeast Division punter last year. As a place kicker, he connected on five field goals last year and is believed to have one of the strongest legs in the valley.
McMorris battled injuries most of last year, but make no mistake, he is one of the area’s most dynamic players. He’s regularly clocked at 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash and has the potential to have a monster season.