Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 | 12:15 a.m.
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.
The Bishop Gorman High football team wouldn’t be denied. Not this week. And not in the previous five weeks of the season when the Nevada power challenged and defeated a who's who of regarded national programs.
Not even near-hourlong delay for lightning and rain Friday could stop the Gaels from putting on a show in their last marquee game before heading into local play.
Gorman built a 17-point cushion by halftime against No. 1-ranked St. John Bosco in an ESPN-televised game, leading from start to finish in a 34-31 victory to polish off its national-championship resume. About 5,000 fans packed into Fertitta Field, waiting out a 56-minute weather delay and creating an atmosphere not common with the local high school game.
“The crowd was fanatical. There were so many people here to support us, and to support St. John Bosco, also,” said Gorman sophomore Tyjon Lindsey, who had arguably the best play of the night when he maneuvered his way to score on a 70-yard screen pass in the third quarter. “We knew we were ready. Our mindset was still focused on the game (during the delay).”
St. John Bosco scored 21 unanswered points to close the game, but it was too little too late. Five different Gorman players had touchdowns to help take a commanding 34-10 lead, showing the nation’s best high school team might just be in Las Vegas.
They sure have appeared that way in the initial six games of the season. Each week Gorman has squared off against a different out-of-state team with a rich pedigree, receiving some big-time challenges but prevailing with an undefeated record. They’ve won in overtime, on a 2-point conversion in the fourth quarter and in blowout fashion when the game was supposed to be close.
Friday might be the crowning moment.
Whether it was senior running back Russell Booze racing untouched for an electrifying 80-yard touchdown run or sophomore quarterback Tate Martell scrambling to create a touchdown when he seemed destined to be tackled for a loss, the Gaels’ versatility on offense was too much for visiting St. John Bosco to contain.
A different player seemed to get the ball on every play. And that player always had the potential to turn it into a big gain or touchdown.
“You have to play us true. If you double-team me that will leave another guy open,” said Gorman’s Alize Jones, whose 23-yard touchdown reception from Martell with four minutes to play in the third quarter proved to be the game-winning points. “The matchups we have are unbelievable. We have a lot of weapons on offense.”
Martell was again masterful under center in accounting for three touchdowns and more than 200 yards passing. He started working his magic on the first possession of the game, finding Lindsey for a completion on a fourth down play to extend the drive and scoring on a 5-yard run a few plays later. On each play, he should have been stopped for a loss.
Jonathan Shumaker also scored a touchdown for Gorman on a 1-yard plunge late in the first half to give Gorman a 20-3 halftime lead. While Booze and Lindsey beat St. John Bosco with their breakaway speed, Shumaker pushed the California power with his ability to run between the tackles. Gorman snapped St. John Bosco’s 19-game winning streak.
While Gorman will surely be ranked No. 1 next week, it’s too early in the process to speculate if it will be the mythical national champions at the end of the season. First, the Gaels have to go undefeated against Nevada competition for a sixth straight season, starting next week against Shadow Ridge.
Then, of course, they have to be voted as No. 1. There’s no reasoning behind how the rankings are pieced together — this week, for instance, Gorman is No. 5 by Maxpreps and Don Bosco Prep of New Jersey is No. 1.
It should make for an interesting debate in early December. But after Friday one thing is clear: Gorman football is a player nationally. And, depending on whom you ask, the nation’s best high school team.
“All I know is we’ve done what a lot of people said we couldn’t do,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “Every week, they are going down. Even the local media all picked against us. Everybody (says they) are going down, they are going down. We were never down for one minute of the game tonight.”