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August 17, 2019

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Preseason Top 10: Gorman still team to beat, again loaded with elite players

Las Vegas Sun's HS Football Top 10

Christopher DeVargas

Bishop Gorman High football players — from left, Palaie Geoteote, Adrian Dupuis, Farrell Hester, Haskell Garrett, Biaggio Ali-Walsh, Tate Martell, Alex Perry and Bubba Bolden — pose for a photo at the Sun’s high school football media day, July 20, 2016 at the South Point.

Las Vegas Sun's HS Football Top 10

Members of the Shadow Ridge High football team pose for a photo at the Las Vegas Sun's high school football media day July 20, 2016 at the South Point. They include, from left, Trevor Sablan, Aubrey Nellems, and Kaejin Smith-Bejgrowicz. Launch slideshow »

The Bishop Gorman High football team hasn’t lost since October 2013 in winning back-to-back USA Today national championships. And it hasn’t been defeated by a local opponent since 2008 in capturing seven straight state championships.

While Liberty and Arbor View have closed the gap locally in the past few seasons, you can easily argue the Gorman dynasty won’t be challenged in 2016. The season begins Aug. 26, and Gorman is again loaded with talented players.

The Gaels are the easy choice for the top spot in our preseason top 10.

They are led by the past two state Gatorade players of the year in quarterback Tate Martell, an Ohio State verbal commit, and running back Biaggio Ali-Walsh. The defense is led by another Ohio State commit in lineman Haskell Garrett. All three are preseason All-Americans by MaxPreps.

Gorman has notable performers at each level of its defense — Haskell up front, four-star linebacker Palaie Gaoteote, and elite prospects Bubba Bolden and Alex Perry in the secondary.

Gorman isn’t as experienced in the passing game — a possible weakness. Tyjon Lindsey, Martell’s favorite target and another elite recruit, transferred to California in the offseason. That means junior tight end Brevin Jordan, a top-100 player for the class of 2018, will be counted on for a breakthrough season.

Here are the rest of the rankings.

    • 2. Liberty

      Last year: Won the Sunrise Region; lost in state championship game

      The six-time defending Sunrise Region champions have an abundance of talent, especially at the skilled positions. San Diego State commit Ethan Dedeaux, who had three touchdown receptions in the state championship game, is a four-year varsity starter. He’ll be joined at wide receiver by Darion Acohido and Marquez Powell, giving the Patriots arguably the best collection of wide receivers in Las Vegas. Junior quarterback Kenyon Oblad, another starter since his freshman season, already has multiple scholarship offers. Will Brewer (6-foot-3, 280-pounds) and Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu (6-foot-6, 365-pounds) bring size and experience to the offensive line. Liberty’s nonleague schedule is brutal — home games Aug. 26 vs. No. 4 Arbor View and Sept. 16 vs. No. 3 Desert Pines are sandwiched between a road trip to Westlake Texas.

    • 3. Desert Pines

      Last year: Lost in 3A state quarterfinals

      Some feel Desert Pines is Nevada’s second-best team — regardless of classification — behind Gorman. The Jaguars, led by a core group of future Division-I college players, are the favorites to win the 3A classification. Running back Isaiah Morris and quarterback Marckell Grayson are three-year starters, wide receiver Randal Grimes is verbally committed to USC and offensive lineman PJ Poutasi is committed to Louisville. The defense is led by Tony Fields II, an Arizona commit, at linebacker. While the Jags’ speed and size are unmatched, they lack player depth at most positions. Its game in mid-September against Liberty is one of the most anticipated nonleague games in recent memory.

    • 4. Arbor View

      Last year: Won Northwest Division; lost in Sunset Region championship game

      Arbor View’s 28-10 loss to Bishop Gorman in last year’s Sunset Regional championship game was the closest margin of defeat against the seven-time state champions since Palo Verde lost by 10 points in 2009. The Aggies will again have a team capable of playing with Gorman, especially defensively. Led by Division I recruits Greg Rogers and Elijah Wade on the defensive line, three-year varsity performer Andrew Wagner at linebacker and athletic cornerback Mike Sims, the Aggies have the talent and experience to play with any opponent in town. Quarterback Hayden Bollinger and running back Deago Stubbs lead the offense.

    • 5. Centennial

      Last year: Lost in the Sunset Regional semifinals

      Centennial’s core group of athletes are some of the state’s best: wide receiver Savon Scarver is a track champion, quarterback Jamaal Evans can beat you with his legs and arm, Bryce Hampton is a threat on both sides of the ball, and running back Keyvon Miller led the Bulldogs in rushing last season at more than five yards per carry. Centennial’s game Oct. 7 against Arbor View may decide the Northwest League crown.

    • 6. Green Valley

      Last year: Lost in the Sunrise Regional semifinals

      Green Valley, despite losing key players to injury and transfer, will be Liberty’s stiffest competition in the Sunrise. The Gators lost two quarterbacks to force sophomore Kalyja Waialae into action one year earlier than expected. Waialae’s a dual-threat quarterback whose athleticism won’t easily be contained. Christian Mayberry and Braxton Harms will be tough to tackle in the open field, and junior offensive tackle Eric Brown already has a UNLV scholarship offer. Defensively, the Gators have three standouts in linebackers Eric Faber and CJ Araujo, and defensive end Brock Hershberger.

    • 7.Foothill

      Last year: Lost in the Sunrise Regional quarterfinals

      Many will argue this is too high for a team that will have its hands full reaching the playoffs in the competitive Southeast League. The league has three teams in the top 10 and there won’t be any easy games. Brad Talich, a respected defensive mind, is the new defensive coordinator and will be a difference-maker. Linebacker Justin Dunlap is one of the league’s top defenders, and kicker Kealii Maruyama’s powerful leg will produce many touchbacks to give the opposition poor starting field position.

    • 8. Las Vegas

      Last year: Lost in the Sunrise Regional quarterfinals

      Las Vegas has the best skilled-position player (junior running back Elijah Hicks) and linebacker (senior Cruz Littlefield) in the Northeast League, and should win three of its four league games by the mercy rule of a running clock. While they lack size on the offensive line, the Wildcats could find themselves playing for a Sunrise Regional championship. They’ll be hosting two winnable playoff games, after all. While Hicks, a two-time preseason all-city selection, gets all the headlines for Las Vegas, junior Diquan Brown is equally dangerous out of the backfield. They’ll do some damage on the field together.

    • 9. Palo Verde

      Last year: Lost in the Sunset Regional quarterfinals

      Palo Verde surprisingly lost in the first round of the playoffs last season for its earliest playoff exit since the early 2000s, but is still one of the Las Vegas area’s better teams. And the Panthers’ defense will keep them in a lot of games this fall. More important, the Palo Verde players are determined to prove last year was a fluke. Tyler Thornton and Maxie Miller-Hooks lead the charge at linebacker.

    • 10. Shadow Ridge

      Last year: Lost in the Sunset Regional quarterfinals

      This may be a surprising pick for some, especially considering Shadow Ridge was a one-win team in 2015. But the Mustangs are loaded with quality younger players and second-year coach Travis Foster is building the program the correct way. He came from Arbor View. Sooner or later the Mustangs will start duplicating Arbor View in the standings. Sophomore quarterback Kody Presser continues to improve, and junior Aubrey Nellems at linebacker and running back is a solid two-way player — 77 tackles last year on defense; 505 total years and three TDs last season.

    • Outside looking in

      Basic — Wolves’ offense always one of the best in Southern Nevada.

      Faith Lutheran (but probably not for long) — The Crusaders are slowly building into a power. They have great facilities and coaching. Some feel they’ll eventually dethrone Bishop Gorman.

      Sunrise Mountain — Defenders Dalwin Spates at linebacker and lineman Pookie Farmer will each play on Saturdays. Miners may be second-best team in 3A classification behind Desert Pines.

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

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