Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 | 12:34 a.m.
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Bishop Gorman vs. Palo Verde. Arbor View vs. Centennial. The start of the Sunrise region playoffs. The semifinals of the Division 1A playoffs. It's a packed week of high school football for Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer to break down on this episode of Prep Sports Now.
The best rivalry in all of Nevada’s high school football was a lopsided affair Friday night. That was especially true when Bishop Gorman High junior running back Nate Starks had the ball in his hands.
Starks showed why he is considered one of the nation’s top recruiting prospects for the class of 2014, rushing for 201 yards on 10 carries with three touchdowns to give the Gaels a 71-28 victory against Summerlin neighbor Palo Verde in the Sunset Regional semifinals.
Starks opened the scoring with a 71-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the game, breaking into the Palo Verde secondary and outracing the defense to give Gorman the lead for good. The 6-foot-1, 200 pound Starks, who has scholarship offers from the likes of Texas and Oklahoma, also scored on runs of 47 and 43 yards to help Gorman top Palo Verde for the fourth straight season.
Starks, like most of his teammates, needed no motivation to play Palo Verde.
“It’s always a big game every time we play them. It’s so much more personal because I know 90 percent of their team,” he said.
This year, unlike the past three seasons against Palo Verde, Gorman won in blowout fashion. Early in the game, however, it was anything but a lopsided affair.
Quarterback Anu Solomon was intercepted on the third play of the game at about the Gorman 40-yard line to give Palo Verde good field position. It was just Solomon’s third interception of the year and one of four Gorman turnovers on the night.
But Palo Verde couldn't capitalize on the miscue in fumbling a few plays later to give Gorman the ball back.
“I thought we played pretty sloppy early in the game,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “We were able to put a bunch of points on the board, but we had a bunch of turnovers early and we had a lot costly penalties. We have to clean some of that stuff up. The turnovers really bothered me early in the game. If you are going to be a championship football team, you've got to play a cleaner first half than that.”
Solomon recovered to rush for a 19-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter for a 14-0 advantage. Later in the half, he threw a pair of touchdown passes to Jamir Tillman to help Gorman scored 21 points in each of the first and second quarters.
While Palo Verde ended up losing by 40-plus points, the Panthers managed to keep the game close in the first half.
Gorman opened the game with 21 unanswered points in the game’s initial seven minutes, but Palo Verde responded with a long scoring drive to cut its deficit to two scores on a 6-yard touchdown run from Lee Griggs.
After Tillman caught his first touchdown pass, Palo Verde again responded, this time with Parker Rost hooking up with Ryan Beaulieu for a 55-yard scoring strike in trimming the deficit to 28-14 with 9:05 remaining in the second quarter.
Rost and Beaulieu connected for another touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter, but Gorman’s Justin Sweet returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown to extend Gorman’s lead to 49-21.
Gorman will host Centennial, which upset Arbor View 14-9 Friday in the other semifinal, in next week’s Sunset championship game. The Gaels defeated Centennial three weeks ago, 49-20.
“I thought Centennial is one of the best looking teams I’ve seen in town,” Sanchez said. “Tonight’s victory (against Arbor View) didn’t surprise me.”