Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016 | 11:34 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports editors Ray Brewer and Case Keefer ring in the start of football season by discussing some of the valley's top storylines and teams, like Bishop Gorman, Liberty, Arbor View and Desert Pines.
CEDAR HILL, Texas — So much for the mystique of Texas high school football.
By the time Bishop Gorman put the finishing touches on its 44-14 victory against host Cedar Hill of the Dallas area today, many of the nearly 12,000 pro-Cedar Hill fans in attendance had left.
Gorman quickly silenced the natives, and its critics nationally.
Gorman is the two-time defending national champions and entered on a 39-game winning streak. But the Gaels are from Nevada — a state lightly regarded for its high school football. They hadn’t faced or beaten a team from storied Texas.
That changed tonight. The Gaels — even if coaches and supporters disagree — validated their dynasty. And they did it in an ESPN-televised game against a top-5 ranked team.
Its players, athletes who grew up playing in Las Vegas youth programs, manhandled one of Texas’ notable teams. Texas is still considered a hotbed for high school football and the place where the game is performed at a top level.
Gorman earned its stripes tonight. They did so in the name of Nevada football.
“I don’t know if anyone thought a team from Nevada could do that,” Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez proudly told his players after the game.
Gorman led by 10 points at halftime and had all the momentum on its side. But it surrendered a 71-yard fake punt for a touchdown to trim the lead to three points midway through the third quarter. And on the next possession, Gorman was forced to punt after three plays.
But its defense came up with a stop to get the ball back. On the next play, senior Biaggio Ali-Walsh ran untouched for a 77-yard touchdown. Then, after an interception from sophomore Greg Oliver, Tate Martell broke loose for a touchdown run a mere 63 seconds later.
Soon, it was a 30-point victory margin.
“It is all the work we put in,” said Martell, who had three late scoring runs. “I am telling you, nobody works like us, and it shows every game. Nobody finishes like us. They were talking Texas football this and that. That’s the No. 1 team in Texas, and look what we did.”
As the game wore on, Gorman’s players appeared to get stronger. Some felt it would be Cedar Hill’s players, those used to the Texas humidity, who would thrive late. Instead, Gorman closed with 27 unanswered points.
“We preach hard work and discipline, that’s what we always are going to fall back on,” Sanchez said. “I just feel we are the hardest working team in America.”
Gorman was as good as advertised. Many of its star-studded defenders each had big plays, from a Bubba Bolden interception to set up a first-half touchdown that helped turn a seven-point first quarter deficit into a 10-point halftime lead, to hard hits from senior defensive lineman Haskell Garrett and junior linebacker Palaie Gaoteote.
“Everything we do, we preach a lot of being mentally tough. Physical will come later,” Gaoteote said.
Now, it’s on the next test — in six days. Gorman’s home opener is Friday against another notable foe, Cocoa of Florida. Gorman, after all, has never beat a team from Florida, another top area for high school football.
“A lot of people come down here (to Texas) and go back to the graveyard sort of speak,” Sanchez said. “That’s a good football team. Hats off to my players, man. They came down here on a road trip in Game 1 and got it done.”