If Mountain Pointe fans have done little or no research on their season-opening opponent — Las Vegas Bishop Gorman — this Friday night (Aug. 23) in the 8th Annual Sollenberger Classic, this space is glad to fill in some blanks. Let's get started.
Bishop Gorman, a private school in Nevada's largest classification, is ranked 18th in the newly created MaxPreps Top 25 Composite Rankings. The rankings combine six national polls that have been opearting for at least the last five years to generate a composite (Hamilton is the lone Arizona team in the rankings at No. 17). Bishop Gorman has won four consecutive state titles and five in the last six years. Its current coach — Tony Sanchez — has presided over the last four titles and seasons posting a 57-3 record in that span. The Gaels not only won state titles the last four years, but the closest one was captured by a margin of 40 points. No wonder the Gaels are playing six out-of-state squads to begin their season in search of high-cailber competition.
Bishop Gorman has played in the Sollenberger Classic three of the five years it's been contested between top programs from Arizona and Nevada. Bishop Gorman is 1-2 in those outings.The Gaels lost in 2008 to Brophy Prep, 16-6; bowed to Hamilton in 2010, 24-17 and prevailed over Chaparral, 42-22, in 2011.
As for the squad Mountain Pointe faces on Friday night, the numbers show a somewhat inexperienced Bishop Gorman. Three returning starters on offense and three on defense. Don't let that fool you.
Bishop Gorman graduated a four-year starter at quarterback in Anu Solomon, now a freshman at the University of Arizona. His heir apparent is familiar name — Randall Cunningham — the son of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham. Cunningham played in most of the Gaels games last season and rushed for better than 500 yards and seven touchdowns. He's worked hard in the offseason to improve his passing skills.
Cunningham doesn't have last year's top receiver or running back returning, but does have an experienced and massive offensive line working in front front of him. The top names are Nick Gates (6-foot-4, 272 pounds) and two-way starter Zack Singer (6-3, 292). Add Tryson Mook (6-3, 278) and Ethan Palelei (6-1, 288) and that is some size.
Although the top rusher and receiver from 2012 are gone, their replacements played some last year and have Sanchez's complete confidence. Sanchez expects Daniel Stewart to step up at tailback. Sanchez says Stewart is explosive with the ability to score from anywhere on the field. At wide out is Terrance Chambers, a speedy, dynamic talent according to the coach.
The defense has its anchors. Up front is Singer (tackle), Kenyan Coker (linebacker) and Armand Perry (safety). Perry made a verbal commitment to ASU 10 days ago. Add transfer linebacker Nela Otukolo from Honolulu St. Louis High and there is size and speed aplenty.