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kickoff 2015:

Ali-Walsh uses speed to lead Gorman football to opening night win

Gaels start national title defense with win on ESPNU; coach Kenny Sanchez wins debut

Bishop Gorman vs. Chandler 2

Steve Marcus

Bishop Gorman High School’s Biaggio Ali-Walsh (7) breaks away and scores on a 55-yard touchdown run during a game against Chandler (Ariz.) High School at Bishop Gorman Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Bishop Gorman beat Chandler 35-14.

Bishop Gorman Beats Chandler

Bishop Gorman High School's football team takes the field for a game against Chandler (Ariz.) High School at Bishop Gorman Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Bishop Gorman beat Chandler 35-14. Launch slideshow »

It was only a matter of time until Bishop Gorman High junior running back Biaggio Ali-Walsh had a breakout performance in one of the Gaels' marquee games.

After all, he's usually the fastest player on the field.

Ali-Walsh, the grandson of boxing great Muhammad Ali, scored a pair of touchdowns Saturday in Gorman’s opener, breaking loose for a 55-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter against Chandler of Arizona to give Gorman the lead for good in a 35-14 victory.

The game was televised by ESPNU, giving a national audience a glimpse of one of the class of 2017’s up-and-coming prospects. He runs a 4.38-second 40-yard dash — the fastest time at Gorman during spring testing in the past seven seasons.

“Everyone was saying how I was going to have a big year and whatnot,” said Ali-Walsh, who has scholarship offers from UNLV and Louisville. “There’s a lot of pressure on my back. I had to take that out of my head and stay relaxed. When I stay relaxed, I play a lot better.”

Gorman, the defending mythical national champion, picked up where it left off last season by topping another ranked opponent. And with consensus No. 1 De La Salle of California losing in Texas, the Gaels' chances of repeating increased.

That’s especially true with the speed of the Gorman offense.

Tyjon Lindsey, another blue-chip recruit for 2017 with top speed, scored on a 30-yard touchdown and had about 100 yards of total offense. Defensively, he recorded an interception to help keep Chandler, which was the nation’s 20th-ranked team and was expected to be high-scoring, to just two touchdowns.

“Get them (Ali-Walsh and Lindsey) the ball as many times as you can, and if there’s a crease (in the defense), that’s a good situation for us,” Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said.

The victory was the first for Sanchez as the Gorman head coach. He was the defensive coordinator the past six seasons while the Gaels went from state contender to national power, and was elevated to head coach when his brother, Tony, got the UNLV job.

He said winning his debut was a big relief, but then again, he similarly felt relief after a win in past seasons. He was more concerned with talking about the mistakes Gorman made and how the team needs to make improvements before the Gaels play next Friday at Bingham of Utah in another spotlight game.

“Some of our immaturity and young football showed with all of the penalties,” Sanchez said. “We have to fix that if we want to have success. We talk about being a disciplined football team. We have to clean that up if we want to be successful.”

Ali-Walsh, who was a backup last season, wasted no time in his first start. He rushed for 104 yards on 15 carries and caught three passes for 66 yards and an 18-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Jonathan Shumaker closed the scoring with a 22-yard touchdown run with 1:03 to play.

Junior defensive end Haskell Garrett also picked up were he left off last season with a dominating performance. He played offense, too, and scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter. Bubba Bolden had an interception for Gorman, and linebackers Palaie Gaoteote and Ferrall Hester each made multiple tackles.

Gorman won’t have much time to enjoy the victory. The team returns to practice Monday and leaves Thursday for the Salt Lake City area to face Bingham, which it last season needed overtime to beat.

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

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