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April 25, 2015

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high school football:

Gorman weathers valiant effort from Reed, advances to face Liberty in state title game


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Bishop Gorman wide receiver Ryan Smith gets away from Servite’s Nick Needham during their game at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif., Friday, Sept. 21, 2012.

Prep Sports Now

Gorman, Liberty and....Coronado? Previewing the semifinals

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer expected Bishop Gorman and Liberty to be in this position, one game away from the state championship on Thanksgiving weekend. Coronado comes as the season's surprise. Brewer and Keefer discuss whether the Cougars can take it a step further and everything else concerning the state semifinals.

Bishop Gorman High quarterback Anu Solomon and wide receiver Ryan Smith produced a similar result in this spot before.

The seniors hooked up for a 73-yard scoring strike with 58 seconds remaining in the first half Saturday against host Reed High of Northern Nevada in the state semifinals to break a 14-all tie and give the Gaels the lead for good.

Gorman never trailed after that long touchdown, and while Reed put up a strong fight, the Gaels were victorious 49-24 in advancing to the state championship game for the fifth time in six years.

Two years ago in the state semifinals against Palo Verde, Solomon and Smith connected on a similar long pass seconds before halftime in helping Gorman erase a small deficit. The play took the wind out of Palo Verde’s sails to give Gorman momentum for the second half and a double-digit win.

But Reed, which Gorman beat 72-28 in the state title game last year and 62-21 in the 2009 state semifinals, still put up a fight in the third quarter.

The game was close until Gorman pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Gorman led just 21-17 with four minutes remaining in the third quarter, but the three-time defending state champions scored 21 unanswered points to put the game out of reach.

Nate Starks had scoring runs of 6 and 54 yards during a six minute stretch from the final minutes of the third quarter to the opening minutes of the fourth.

Solomon followed by connecting with Jamir Tillman with a 23-yard touchdown pass and Starks put an exclamation mark on the victory with a 56-yard touchdown to close the scoring.

Gorman advances to play Liberty, which beat Coronado in the other semifinal Saturday, at 12:15 p.m. Dec. 1 at Sam Boyd Stadium in the state championship game.

Being challenged by Reed, a team several thought Gorman would beat in lopsided fashion, will serve as a wake-up call for next week. That’s especially true when considering Liberty stayed close to Gorman in last year’s semifinals before losing 56-34.

“This was the best thing that could have happened to us,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “It reminds us you have to come and be ready to (play).”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at

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  1. Lol, Donmex i'm sorry you're butthurt because you/your nephew/kid/paperboy whatever is a Raider and I offend you. Last week you said I shouldn't base a teams worth on just their performance against Gorman (ala Reed of last two years or McQueen 2010). Now you expect me to value your teams worth and all of northern NV football based on what...their performance against gorman? Seems convenient. Listen I enjoy and respect Northern NV football, I always have. I know it doesn't sound nice to you or make you feel good but the reason this years Reed is "soft" is because of they are compared to some of the great Northern teams of the 90's and 00's.

    It's actually a compliment to northern football, saying that the last couple years are below the high standard the north has previously set. Get over yourself, this isn't personal, this isn't a vendetta against Reed like yours is against Gorman and their facilities. In fact it would benefit my cause more to say that I was wrong and Reed is really good and that's why they did so well in the first half and that blah blah blah but nope. Not it at all.

    I've said it a million times (before you showed up here) and i'll say it again. The north will come back and will have some best team in the state and the best team in the state sooner than later. After watching your boys put on a valiant effort I still say Truckee is the better team from the north, I still say Sunset teams Centennial and Arbor would beat them, although I would say they'd beat Palo.

  2. Ok so this is my honest assessment that will probably piss off both anti and pro Gorman folks, but I try to call it how I see it. Even if it doesn't benefit my cause.

    First, things that Reed executed to perfection: Controlling the clock, converting on third downs and special teams. I start with these because they absolutely deserve credit for doing those.

    I turned to my buddy after Reed took what seemed like an hour off the clock on one drive in the first half and told him what I am about to say here and low and behold I was apparently right. This will probably come off as arrogant but for those of you that have been here for a while you know i'm not a total homer, i pick gorman to lose and call them out on their shortcomings but this one was a bit to obvious to me.

    Without purposely offending any of you Reed folks, and hopefully not ruining it for my Gorman folks too badly, you were bamboozled into thinking you actually kept it close. You've been hoodwinked. I know it's a bold statement but hear me out.

    While I guarantee that Sanchez didn't ever expect a 21-14 score at the half. Certainly didn't expect an interception by Anu or fumble by Tajon Allen or that Reed would eat up 16 minutes off the clock on two drives alone, he absolutely hoodwinked the north on Saturday. Again this may be hard to swallow for Reed fans and you can dismiss it if you want but I have to call it how i see and feel it.

    JV call ups and backs up were on the field in places for Gorman since the very opening kickoff. The play calling of the first half (from somebody who has seen the vast majority of Gorman games with Sanchez at the helm) was the most conservative play calling i've ever seen on both sides of the ball. Up the gut and a mostly out routes. No a single outside pitch to Starks, not a screen and only a couple bombs on long downs. Defensively the dogs were not thrown and blitzes didn't get thrown at you until second half. Your corners were giving our receivers ten yards of space on every snap, not your regular starters on the o line and Starks didn't take a single pitch to the outside (a lot of his bread and butter this season) until the second half. I said it before the game even started when I saw the lineup....Sanchez is going to try to keep it close the first half so that there isn't a media and parent uproar like last season and that was before we even kicked off. At half I said we'd put up 30 points in second and as soon as we got the ball back and sure enough we put up 28 in very easy fashion. I know this sucks to hear but while I am sure it was closer than they wanted, the plan was clearly to keep the score down and closer than the last two seasons.

  3. That said I was very impressed by your qb poise, I think they would have put around 14 points on Gorman evem had Sanchez not waited until second half to send the dogs. But as much crap as I will get for saying this, clearly the plan was to not score another 70 points like last year and that worked. Partially because Reed played well, came out fired up to our flat sideline, reed got the INT and kept ball possession but mostly because Gorman could ill afford another spectacle and off season blitz by the NIAA like last year. I have no doubt in my mind that Sanchez could have easily made the play calls for Stark to do what he did in the second half in the first and we'd be looking at 72-24 Gorman and another uproar. but instead, mostly by design the only person unbiased enough to see that is some dude on this comment board. Again Reed played their hearts out, we definitely came out unmotivated and Reed would have put up about 21 points regardless but I gotta call it how I see it.

    Reed would have put up about the same amount of points, maybe one td less but Gorman puts up easily 2-3 more td's if they called the first half like they did the second.

    Now we have the north talking about how good they did against a national power rather than the north calling for Gorman's head while still getting a 25 point margin of victory. Mission accomplished.

    Now onward to the match up most of us have been wishing for since last year. Liberty has clearly been saving their best for last and played on Saturday with a chip on their shoulder for all of us that called a Coronado upset. I still think that based on how they've been playing it was looking like that's what would happen but it was great to see Liberty make a bunch of us eat crow and head into the state championship with loads of confidence. Can't wait for next week.

  4. Again, i'm sure it took was a little closer and took a little longer than would have liked but the intent was pretty clear.

    Taking from SG1's pre-game comment
    "This comes down more to muting the discussion of Gorman leaving the NIAA. If they go out and beat Reed 70-0, I suspect there will be a gigantic push from the north to rid themselves of Gorman football"

    Sanchez could have easily put 60 or 70 on Reed again but did everything possible not to do that and even got a little help from Reed over performing.

    Again, not making any friends here but if i'm Reed i'm more insulted at JV call ups and non starters to start the game in an effort to hoodwink the NIAA than I would be by another 70-something point game. But hey, toast to your moral victory.

    With Anu graduating and Cunningham Jr being limited with his arm and ball control (although he's amazing on his feet) Gorman won't have a two headed 60+ point a game monster on offense. It will be a very powerful spread run, run, run offense which will be the best in the state but not anywhere near the head and shoulders above the rest like the last 4 seasons.

    Contrary to what you may believe I personally do look forward to more parody in the state that we will get next year.