There is a feeling — no matter the recent success of Mountain Pointe football — the Pride is not in the same ball park with Las Vegas Bishop Gorman as the teams square off Friday night (Aug. 23) at 7 at the 8th annual Barry Sollenberger Classic.
The game takes place at Fertitta Field on the campus of Bishop Gorman High School with a national audience viewing on the week-old Fox Sports 1 network. Competition and bragging rights are on the line in this Nevada-Arizona matchup just as they will be Saturday (Aug. 24) when Salpointe faces Liberty High (Henderson, Nev) at the same venue. That's what these games should be about. Nothing more.
Bishop Gorman enters the fray backed by four consecutive Nevada big-school state titles by whopping margins. Along with that is a growing national reputation as a perennial player in the race for that mythiical a national championship — a really bogus title considering how many high schools there are across the nation.
Mountain Pointe has enjoyed three outstanding seasons among its last four — a loss in last year's big-school title game (12-2 record) and a semifinal appearance in 2009 (12-1 record). The 2010 season (10-3) wasn't bad either.
But no state championships — yet. Win or lose Friday, Mountain Pointe will move forward with its most coveted goal — that of winning a state title. Mountain Pointe opened last season with a win over Hamilton. There was some euphoria with that triumph, since the Pride had taken down Arizona's top big-school program out of the gate. The loss in the title game three months late, however, to that same Hamilton squad was a blow to the head since it cost Mountain Pointe its ultimate goal.
All preseason Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan has downplayed the Bishop Gorman matchup as something bigger than folks want to make it. He said it's not the Super Bowl. He means that, but that doesn't mean the Pride won't give it their all to pull off what most people would consider an upset. Vaughan has said numerous times his team will play anyone that wants to play them. He likes the competition
So does Bishop Gorman. Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez downplays a bit the perceived ravenous appetite the Gaels have as a program shooting for one coveted goal and that's national champ.
“The last bunch of years it's been normal for us to start off in deep water,” Sanchez said. “Hamilton, Chaparral, Our Lady of Good Counsel. All great programs. Mountain Pointe is that kind of opponent. Very talented. This is one of many tough games we have. I think you can say both teams have things in place to have outstanding seasons.”
However, not many schools play the quantity of top-notch programs from across the country as Bishop Gorman does, a signal the program likely wants more than a Nevada state title.
No matter the goals and aspirations of the teams involved, if you attend the game or view it as part of national audience — enjoy it for what it is. A compettition between two schools — one from one state one from another — for a night of bragging rights for the winning school and its state. That's what the name's gamesake — Barry Sollenberger — wanted to see. And that's what's happening for the fifth year in a row.
It's as simple as that.