Las Vegas Sun

January 17, 2022

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Football state championship preview notebook

Keys for Bishop Gorman: The Gaels need to stay humble and not overlook a Dragons squad several feel won't be much of a challenge. After all, this would be an awful time for the perennial powers to lose their first game of the season. By scoring 28 points in the initial six minutes of last week's state semifinals against Reed High of Sparks, Bishop Gorman showed that it is focused on bringing home the ultimate prize. The Gaels need to duplicate that fast start and not give the Dragons hope that they can be competitive.

Gorman player to watch: Gorman senior defensive end Alex Turner arguably is the best defender in town and will be starting in his second state championship game. The Stanford commit will see plenty of work against a Del Sol squad known for its physical style of play and solid running game. Turner has risen to the occasion most of his career, and another solid performance would give him a 41-2 record in his final three years on varsity, including two undefeated seasons. That's pretty impressive.

Key win for Gorman: Some feel Gorman won the state championship the middle of November with a 38-28 victory against rival Palo Verde in the Sunset Regional semifinals. The win was Gorman's closest of the year and its biggest hurdle to overcome in winning the title. Also, and more importantly if you ask the Gorman players, it avenged a 36-point loss to the Panthers in the 2008 regional finals. It was easiest the biggest game of the year ... well, until Saturday.

Keys for Del Sol: The Dragons can't let the enormity of playing on the big stage against a powerhouse opponent alter their game plan. Del Sol is best when it controls the clock with its power running game and must stick to that strategy to pull off what would be a monumental upset. Running backs Dezerick Reed, who will play after missing most of last week's state semifinals with a sprained ankle, and Chris Marshall need to have monster days for the Dragons to have a chance. Del Sol will have to play a perfect game and get several breaks to win the Henderson area's first state title since 1960.

Del Sol player to watch: Senior wide receiver and defensive back Evan Weinstock is the Dragons' top athlete and will be called upon to help neutralize Gorman's speed in the open field. Weinstock, who has scholarship offer from Northern Arizona, caught 35 passes for 765 yards and 11 touchdowns this year and will have to continue coming up with the big catch against heavily favored Gorman.

Key win for Del Sol: The Dragons already have practice celebrating like they have won the state title. Del Sol hung on for a 33-28 victory against nemesis Las Vegas High in September for arguably for the program's best win in its six-year existence. Del Sol had lost to Las Vegas in the last three Sunrise Regional title games, including surrendering a three-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter last year. Del Sol also led big this year before Las Vegas nearly rallied for the win. A late interception sealed the Dragons' win and ignited a celebration for the ages.

Ray Brewer's prediction: I've heard from several people this week who think Gorman is going to win by 50 or more points. That's ridiculous. While the Gaels are loaded with talent and clearly better on paper, this isn't like a No. 1 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament facing off against a No. 16. Del Sol hasn't backed down all season and will give Gorman plenty of problems. Ultimately, Gorman and its stable of Division-One-caliber players will wear down a Del Sol team that only has 16 in its regular rotation. Gorman will win its second title in three years, pulling away late for a 42-13 victory.

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