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November 28, 2022

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High School Football:

Game for the ages: Bishop Gorman ready for No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown with St. John Bosco

Bishop Gorman vs. Bingham

STEPHEN SYLVANIE / SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Bishop Gorman students cheer on the Gaels during the fourth quarter against Bingham High School of Utah on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014.

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer debate over whether the four best teams in town all reside in the Sunset Region — Bishop Gorman, Arbor View, Centennial and Palo Verde. They then get into all of their big games this week that should provide the answers, including a Bishop Gorman vs. Saint John Bosco (California) matchup that may decide the mythical national championship.

This won’t be your typical Friday night high school football game.

Need proof? Ask programming officials at ESPN.

Bishop Gorman High’s showdown against visiting St. John Bosco of California is so anticipated that ESPN decided earlier this week to switch its schedule. The 6 p.m. game was moved from ESPNU to more-viewed ESPN.

USA Today ranks St. John Bosco at No. 1; Gorman follows at No. 2. Both teams are undefeated and feature blue-chip college recruits, bringing star appeal to this high school game.

Sure, Gorman has played its share of marquee games against out-of-state opponents on television in recent seasons. And last year, the Gaels hosted the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, Booker T. Washington of Miami.

But this year, it’s different.

Gorman is undefeated after five national games and has just one hurdle to clear in its quest to be the mythical national champions. A win against St. John Bosco, the defending California champion, would certainly do the trick. That’s assuming, of course, the Gaels again run the table against Nevada competition and win a sixth straight state championship.

The Los Angeles Times’ Eric Sondheimer classifies Friday’s game as the most significant on the West Coast in the past 15 years. Just a few tickets remain for the 5,000-seat Fertitta Field at Gorman, where standing-room tickets will also be sold. St. John Bosco this week quickly sold its allotment of 1,500 tickets.

“Not too often do you get No. 1 vs. No. 2, and right here in our hometown,” said Gorman’s Alize Jones, the nation’s No. 1-rated tight end and one of those stars the ESPN cameras will focus on. “It’s going to be one of those special nights.”

A game of this magnitude is coordinated by networks and marketing firms. Gorman coach Tony Sanchez tells organizers each offseason that his program won’t hesitate taking on any opponent. They took him up on his word with this game.

St. John Bosco, which averages more than 50 points per game, is led by one of the nation’s highest-rated quarterbacks for the class of 2015 in Josh Rosen, a UCLA commit. At running back, junior Sean McGrew already has scholarship offers from multiple Pac-12 Conference schools.

“He is really good. If you let him get into an offensive rhythm, it will become tough,” Sanchez said of Rosen. “It’s kind of the old formula. We are going to have to run the football to sustain drives and keep Rosen off the field.”

Rosen and Gorman’s Jones, who are each five-star prospects, are two commits of UCLA’s highly regarded 2015 recruiting class. They’ll soon be teammates. But first they’ll be rivals Friday — one of many storylines attracting ESPN to the game.

“I talked to him the other night on the phone and told him, ‘Hey, man, even though we are future teammates, I’m looking to knock your head off,” said the 6-foot-5, 223-pound Jones, who also plays defensive end. “Neither of us will let up. He’s looking to put it on us, and I’m looking to put it on him.”

Dealing with the emotion of being on a big stage will be part of the equation for both teams. Gorman, though, could be at an advantage because of its previous five games.

The Gaels have already defeated three teams in St. John Bosco’s Pac-5 Division in California, topping Servite, Corona Centennial and Santa Margarita as part of its “gauntlet” of six tough games to open the season. During a span of 13 days, Gorman twice traveled into the Los Angeles area to grab difficult wins.

Click to enlarge photo

The Bishop Gorman High football team will wear gloves with a design based on the Nevada flag for its game against St. John Bosco.

The Gaels scored 34 second-half points Aug. 29 at Servite to win in lopsided fashion. Two weeks later at Centennial, they rushed for nearly 400 yards and prevailed by one point on a late 2-point conversion. On the week between the California trips, Gorman won in overtime at home against Bingham of Utah when the Gaels weren’t at their best.

“We have been up. We have been down,” Sanchez said. “Our kids have dealt with adversity. All of the things mentally, the kids have dealt with it already. They are dialed in.”

When the Gaels take the field Friday, more than locals will see how dialed in Nevada’s powerhouse high school football team is. The five-time defending state champions will have a national audience watching their brand of football.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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