Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2004 | 9:27 a.m.
Cheyenne (8-2, 4-1 NW)
vs. Bishop Gorman (8-2, 5-0 SW)
7 p.m. Friday
Piggott Stadium at Valley High School
Eastern at Karen, Winchester
Previous matchup: Sept. 3, both teams forfeited.
Mutual opponents: Sierra Vista (7-4) -- Cheyenne won 26-14, Bishop Gorman won 27-14; Cimarron-Memorial (5-5) -- Cheyenne won 31-26, Bishop Gorman won 21-3; Western (3-8) -- Cheyenne won 18-0, Bishop Gorman won 7-6.
Key for Bishop Gorman: Discipline. The Gaels need to work on keeping the flags to a minimum.
Key for Cheyenne: Force turnovers. Each team Cheyenne has beaten has la mented about the effect of turning the ball over to the Shields.
It's not too often an athlete makes a guarantee -- even young, sometimes garish high school football players.
But this week, there's a unanimous guarantee coming from both Bishop Gorman and Cheyenne football practices -- don't expect a repeat of last year's postgame antics.
The brawl, which occurred as players were shaking hands after Cheyenne's 32-27 first-round victory against Bishop Gorman, spawned a court fight, a slew of media attention, and caused both teams to forfeit their first games of this season -- games they scheduled against each other.
But as the two teams get set for Friday night's game, their first on-field encounter since that fight 367 days ago, the mood is light on nostalgia and heavy on football.
"This week, we're going to play hard and play with class," Cheyenne tackle Perry Eppinger said. "If anything comes up, we're going to turn our backs and walk away like men."
The attitude was the same across town, as Bishop Gorman's football team practiced in the school's multipurpose room because of low light and poor conditions in their small practice field.
"We're excited to play Cheyenne because last year, they knocked us off in the first round," Gaels running back DeMarco Murray said. "I think we've grown a lot. We can face a lot, we know how to take it, but we don't want to put ourselves in that predicament again. Everyone's giving 110 percent -- there's so much more confidence than last year."
Gorman, which played Saturday night at Valley High School because they don't have a home stadium, won its first playoff game since advancing to the state semifinal in 2000. The win comes also comes after Northwest teams swept Southwest teams in the first round for two straight seasons.
"Their first goal was to win in the first round of the playoffs. Our goal is to get as close as we can to the state championship, if not make it," Gaels coach David White said. "We talked about it going into the Cimarron game. We have a chance to get some respect, mainly for ourselves, but for other programs in town that we can win in the playoffs. How far can we go? That remains to be seen."
Murray led the Gaels with 195 yards and some key defensive plays as Gorman held Cimarron-Memorial without a touchdown in Saturday's 21-3 victory.
"I wasn't surprised in that I knew we could shut them down in some areas," White said. "We played real well on the deep ball a couple of times."
But Cimarron, and a pass-happy offense led by quarterback Andrew Hatch, isn't quite the caliber of team that the Gaels will face this week. Bishop Gorman had several costly penalties, including second-half calls for false starts and encroachments. The Gaels also gave up second-half penalties, what many would say is the lifeblood of Cheyenne attack.
"We just need to play a total team D concept," first-year Cheyenne coach Charles Anthony said. "We need to get every man to the ball, doing what every good defensive football team does."
Anthony said his defensive focus will be on Murray.
"He keeps moving," Anthony said. "He's definitely a guy that we're going to have to gang tackle. I'm surprised that Sedoris hasn't passed more."
Gorman quarterback C.J. Sedoris suffered a broken collarbone in the Gaels' September loss at Colton, Calif. but came back three weeks ago at Clark for limited action. He played in the season finale against Sierra Vista, but left in the fourth quarter last Saturday as he aggravated his injury. He is a game-time decision for this Friday.
Cheyenne's offense is led by running back Torrie Coleman, playing in his first playoffs after transferring from Valley before his junior year. In his first two seasons at Valley, the Vikings went 0-18.
Coleman had 126 yards on 31 carries last week in the Desert Shields' 26-14 win against Sierra Vista.
"This is exciting," he said. "After going 0-18 in the first two years, I don't want to go home."