Stephen Sylvanie / Special to the Sun
Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009 | 1 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun reporters Ray Brewer and Steve Silver break down week one performances and discuss what to watch for as high school football season gears up.
The Gaels moved the ball with ease, racking up 250 yards on the ground and more than 100 in the air as its offensive line manhandled the undersized Trailblazers.
But Gorman appeared to play defense against itself at times as the Gaels' drives continually stalled as a result of penalties.
"We're going to make some young mistakes, but you know what, two weeks into it and enough is enough," said first-year Gorman coach Tony Sanchez. "We didn't have problems on offense until we got into our own way. I really think at the end of the day our biggest adversary is going to be ourselves."
The largely freshman and sophomore Gaels committed 16 penalties for 125 yards in their second consecutive road contest.
To put that in perspective, the Gaels actually picked up more yards in penalties than Durango did offensively the whole night.
"It's unacceptable," Sanchez said. "When you have that many penalties there is only one person to blame and that is the head coach. I'm going to take this on the chin. I'm taking 100 percent blame for those penalties and I'm going to go back and fix them."
Although Gorman's morning film session will not be so pleasant, there were plenty of bright spots to celebrate in the Gaels' penalty-ridden contest.
Perhaps no player made more of an impact than sophomore Shaquille Powell.
One week after rushing for 135 yards and four touchdowns against Dixie, Powell added another 109 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries Friday night.
"Shaquille Powell is Shaquille Powel," Sanchez said. "He's just a great football player."
Powell not only flashed his play-making abilities on offense, but he also proved he is a threat to score on defense.
Powell scooped up the fumble and sprinted 56 yards for a touchdown to put the Gaels on top 21-0 with 2:08 remaining in the half.
"It was a big game changer," Powell said. "When Jalen knocked it out I didn't know if it was live or not, but I picked it up and ran it back and I think that inspired our guys and got the defense hyped."
More importantly than lifting up the Gaels' defense, Powell's fumble return deflated Durango's whole team.
The Blazers picked up just four first downs after that fumble and fumbled the ball away again on the first play of the second half.
"That hurt it us a lot," said Durango coach Gary Maki. "That took the wind out of our sails…We can play much better football. It's Gorman and you hear so much about them and I think that got in our heads and intimidated some of our players."
Aside from a few big plays, the Blazers struggled to find any rhythm on offense.
Durango only gained 82 yards on 27 rushes and completed just seven of 20 passes. At one point, the Blazers switched quarterbacks, but that did not spark a change in the offense's troubles.
"They took care of us in the trenches; that's where they won it," Maki said. "They are much bigger than us and we struggled there."
Gorman's offensive line not only allowed Powell to break out, but it also aided senior Victor Belen in rushing for 102 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries.
And with plenty of time to throw, freshman quarterback Anu Solomon showed off his uncanny abilities by completing 10-of-17 passes for 112 yards.
"(Solomon) is doing a fantastic job," Sanchez said. "We are coaching him up like he's an older guy. We have high expectations for him. But I'll tell you what, when you see a freshman drop back like that and hit those guys and run the way he does. I've got nothing but incredible things to say about Anu Solomon. He's going to be a heck of a player."
Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected]