Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
- Gorman takes care of one national opponent, has six days to prep for next
- Bishop Gorman vs. Chaparral box score
- Anu Solomon, set for a record-shattering season, highlights Sun’s preseason team
- Gorman football primed for national exposure, tough contests against ranked opponents
- High school football section
When a national television audience turns on the Bishop Gorman High football game Friday on ESPN2, they will immediately notice one thing about the people on the Gaels’ home sideline and stands: Everyone will be wearing orange.
Gorman is hosting Florida powerhouse Armwood High of the Tampa Bay area, with school officials urging everyone to wear Gorman’s primary color in support of the team.
After all, No. 7 Gorman will need all of the help it can get. Armwood is ranked No. 2 nationally by Maxpreps.com and has a roster loaded with athletic and physical players who are arguably more well-built than those from Gorman’s two-time defending state championship team.
Gorman’s players will wear orange jerseys, pants, socks and helmets, while the Gaels’ coaches will have orange apparel from head to toe — coaches’ polo shirts, shoes and slacks. Orange towels will be distributed to fans at the 3,600-seat Fertitta Field, and the crowd is expected to be loud from start to finish.
Last week, when Gorman beat No. 24 Chaparral High of Scottsdale, Ariz., at the Sollenberger Classic in Phoenix, several from the school’s G-Block student section made the five-hour drive and stood cheering the entire game. Expect them to create a true home field advantage this week with Gorman trying to keep its record perfect in home games during the four-year history of Fertitta Field.
“This is where we practice, this is our home,” said Ron Scoggins Jr., Gorman’s offensive lineman. “This is what we are used to. This is Fertitta Field. That is who (longtime supporter Frank Fertitta Jr., patriarch of Station Casinos who died in 2009) we play for.”
Although players are approaching the contest as just another game, they realize it will be anything but a typical Friday night. Gorman has played five major national opponents the past two years, but Armwood is the highest ranked and most explosive. Gorman has also played on national television four times the past two years, but this is its first appearance on an ESPN network.
Last year, the Gaels lost to De La Salle of Northern California on CBS College Sports, but locals couldn’t view the game until the second half because the college game scheduled before ran long. The ESPN telecast will begin at 6 p.m., with kickoff promptly at 6:04.
That’s when the Gorman players hope to introduce their program and quality Nevada football to the rest of the nation.
“They are the No. 1 ranked team in Florida, and they play great football in Florida,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “That would be a heck of an upset for a team from Nevada to beat them.”
Armwood could be better than advertised.
Four of its five offensive linemen have major Division I offers, including Cody Waldrop (6-foot-2, 295-pounds) who is verbally committed to South Carolina. Also, linebacker Eric Striker is committed to Oklahoma, and safety and wide receiver Jarvis McCall has scholarship offers from Indiana, Vanderbilt and Central Florida.
But running back Matt Jones, Armwood’s top player who is committed to Florida, isn’t expected to play because of injury.
At 6-foot-6, 280-pounds, Gorman senior offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley is often the biggest player on the field. He knows that won’t be the case against Armwood.
“They are a real big and physical team. It’s going to be a real good physical game,” said Stanley, Gorman’s most sought-after college recruit. “Whichever team stays focused and gains clarity first is going to win.”
Gorman’s 42-22 victory last Saturday against Chaparral was highlighted by 28 unanswered points to open the second half in erasing a seven-point halftime deficit. Gorman’s offense was crisp on its first drive of the game in scoring its initial touchdown in just three plays, but stalled in the second quarter. Defensively, they also suffered in allowing a pair of touchdowns.
But in the second half, Gorman dominated the line of scrimmage. Senior running back Shaquille Powell rushed for 300 yards and had six touchdowns.
“It was Week One. We had only been in pads 10 days,” Sanchez said. “The second half was really the maturation you usually see between the first and second game. Hopefully, we will get a little better this week.”
Armwood coach Sean Callahan watched the game from his Florida home, saying Gorman made Chaparral look like a junior-varsity team.
“There is a high school on every corner in Florida, and Bishop Gorman can play against anyone of them,” Callahan said. “We are going to need every break in the book. They are big, strong, physical and well-coached. They just beat the No. 1 team in Arizona and beat it significantly.”
Beating a nationally ranked opponent six days apart could be viewed as an impossible task. But the Gaels players and coaches are confident they can recover from one game and prepare for another.
They know what another victory on national television means. Gorman will have gone from Nevada’s powerhouse to a team that deserves top-five national consideration.
“The other team doesn’t care what you have been through, they don’t care that you just got back from a game or that you are sore,” Stanley said. “(Friday) we’ll be ready to be just as physical as them.”