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August 3, 2015

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high school football:

Not only is Gorman football back in the Sollenberger Classic, they will host this year’s two-game event

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Justin M. Bowen

A look at Bishop Gorman football practice Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011, as the team prepares for its season opener against nationally ranked Chaparral High of Scottsdale, Ariz., on Saturday at the Sollenberger Classic in Phoenix.

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One year after being snubbed for a spot in the Sollenberger Classic high school football game between Nevada and Arizona schools, four-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman High will host this year’s event in late August at Fertitta Field.

Officials from the Arizona Interscholastic Association, which organizes the game, also announced Tuesday that Station Casinos LLC will be the game’s presenting sponsor. Stations executives Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta are Gorman graduates.

The two-game event will be played on separate days, featuring Gorman at 7 p.m. Aug. 23 against Mountain Pointe of Arizona, the large-school division runner-ups in 2012. The following day at 7 p.m., Liberty will play Salpointe Catholic of the Tucson area.

The past two years, the Sollenberger Classic was played indoors at the Arizona Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium. But the event, which is in its eighth season, will have to be played on separate days this year to accommodate the summer heat. It’s been held six times in Arizona and once in cooler climate Northern Nevada.

Last year, Gorman was passed over because organizers said they wanted a more competitive game. In previous seasons, the defending state champions of each state were picked, and some people speculated Gorman’s exclusion was tied to its battle with the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association about its membership status.

But officials from the Arizona Interscholastic Association, which partners with the NIAA to host the game, disputed the claim and said no formal procedure was in place for selecting teams. Instead, Palo Verde High and Moapa Valley represented Nevada and would provide a more competitive game than nationally ranked Gorman.

The event is named after the late Barry Sollenberger, a longtime Arizona high school sports historian who left funds in a trust to support the annual border war to kickoff the season.

The bickering last year because of Gorman’s exclusion nearly caused the AIA, which selects the teams, to omit Nevada schools all together.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or ray.brewer@lasvegassun.com. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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