Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun editors Ray Brewer and Case Keefer discuss all the fallout from week 1 of the high school football season, while looking ahead to a more jam-packed week 2.
The Bishop Gorman High football team begins its season Friday in a familiar spot: On national television facing a ranked opponent. The Gaels hope to also end their season in a familiar spot as state champions.
Gorman is playing for a 10th straight title, a milestone championship — arguably — because the dominance will reach the rarity of double-digit crowns. The Gaels haven’t lost to a Nevada opponent since the 2008 playoffs, or a few months before brothers Tony and Kenny Sanchez came to Las Vegas from Northern California to build a powerhouse.
The Gaels went from being one of Nevada’s best teams to one of the nation’s marquee brands, including three straight mythical national championships and a spot each August on ESPN for the network’s marathon of games to start the season.
Gorman at 6 p.m. hosts Mater Dei of Southern California on ESPNU. Last season, Gorman had its 55-game winning streak snapped at Mater Dei, which eventually won the national title. Gorman is ranked No. 11 by USA Today in the preseason; Mater Dei is No. 3.
“This whole offseason we have been thinking, ‘Mater Dei, Mater Dei, Mater Dei,’” said Beau Taylor, Gorman’s senior offensive lineman who is verbally committed to UCLA.
Kenny Sanchez, who was elevated to head coach four seasons ago when Tony left for UNLV, constantly reminds players to not rest on the accomplishments of a past season or game. And when you have won nine championships consecutively, changing the approach isn’t an option, he says.
“We are going to focus on it being a new year and not the past,” Sanchez said.
Gorman has a slightly different look with first-year starter Micah Bowens at quarterback and just a handful of returning starters on defense. But the offensive line, with Taylor and Cade Briggs as key performers, is experienced and should lead the way for a strong run game.
Defensive back Kyu Kelly, who is committed to Stanford, had four interceptions in 2018 and will be counted on to impact the game against Mater Dei. Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young, a USC commit, last season passed for 3,431 yards and 41 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He played for another Los Angeles-area school last season.
“I have a big chip on my shoulder,” Kelly said. “Everyone is coming after me.”
This is the first of four games against national competition for Gorman to open the season following a similar script from past years. Along the way, they’ve beaten teams from Washington, Utah, Arizona, Florida, New Jersey, California and Texas.
Regardless of the outcome, the games prepare Gorman for the challenge of local play, and what players and coaches have long said is the ultimate goal of winning state.
“When you look back at it, nine years in a row is a pretty cool deal,” Sanchez said. “Going for 10 is even better."