Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009 | 6:07 p.m.
- Gorman trio leads team to second state championship
- Gorman assistants follow Sanchez from California for championship run
- Del Sol seeks upset against powerhouse Gorman in state championship
- Del Sol’s silent leader primed for state championship
- Reed honored as Nevada’s top player
- Gorman athlete is football team’s unsung star
- Del Sol coach has the respect of his players, peers
- Playoff format produces all-Las Vegas state title game
- Gorman is the highest scoring prep team in the nation
Winning a state championship shouldn’t be this easy.
But, then again, the Bishop Gorman High football team has made most of its victories appear leisurely this season.
Gorman’s Victor Belen had three touchdown runs in the first half Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium and the Gaels limited Del Sol to 69 rushing yards in winning their second state title in three years with a 62-21 victory.
The game wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. Gorman led by 52 points midway through the third quarter to force a running clock — when one team leads by more than 45 points in the second half — before Del Sol scored two late touchdowns against the Gaels’ reserves.
The convincing victory puts an exclamation mark on a dominating season. Gorman (15-0) outscored opponents 799-137 and was hardly challenged in winning every game by double digits.
First-year coach Tony Sanchez preached discipline and being accountable since he was hired last spring and the end result was what everyone expected — a state title.
“We knew we had a talented group of kids,” Sanchez said. “It was a matter of how fast they were going to buy in.”
Gorman needed five plays and less than two minutes to score its initial touchdown in the first quarter to take the lead for good. Belen capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run and the Gaels didn’t take their foot off the pedal until the fourth quarter when they were ahead 59-7.
The players credit Sanchez for giving them a boost. Gorman went 26-2 over the last two years with Bob Altshuler at the helm, but they were defeated 50-14 last year in the Sunset Regional finals by rival Palo Verde and several thought the program was lacking structure.
“Coach Sanchez willed us to reach our potential,” senior defensive end Alex Turner said. “We didn’t have a choice but to be in this game.”
Underdog Del Sol (12-2), which was overmatched against a Gorman team with eight who have Division I scholarship offers, went three-and-out and only gained one yard on its initial two possessions.
Then, just when it appeared Gorman would roll uncontested to the crown, the Sunrise Region champion Dragons showed signs of life.
Quarterback Troy Miller connected with senior Evan Weinstock for a 55-yard scoring strike to cut the deficit to 14-7 with 2:37 to play in the first quarter. Weinstock got behind the coverage of Gorman’s Johnathan Loyd and caught the pass in stride to give Del Sol a spark.
Weinstock, who finished with five catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns, said the play was one of the rare times Gorman was caught off guard.
“They are a disciplined and well-coached team,” Weinstock said. “They play so hard. It was tough getting anything going against them.”
Gorman didn’t take long to answer. Loyd returned the ensuing kickoff deep into Del Sol territory and the Gaels proceeded to score 45 unanswered points, including 28 in the second quarter.
The outburst was capped by a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown from Taylor Spencer to build the advantage to 52 points with 3:16 to play in the third quarter.
“If you are overmatched at every position, it’s going to be an uphill battle,” Del Sol coach Preston Goroff said.
Weinstock and Ashton Cacho had scoring receptions late for Del Sol, but it was too little too late.
Del Sol’s Dezerick Reed, who was playing after severely spraining his ankle last week in the Sunrise Region title game, only rushed for 57 yards on 14 carries and was a non-factor. Reed entered with 1,885 rushing yards.
“The Reed kid is a player,” Sanchez said. “I don’t know him, but as a high school coach, I’m proud of him (for playing after being hurt). That kid has tremendous heart and soul.”
That’s exactly how Belen describes Gorman’s team. He had scoring runs of 4, 3 and 1 yards to finish the season with 26 touchdowns.
He said the victory, just like every milestone they have accomplished this fall, was a team effort.
“A lot of people think (we are good) because we are big,” Belen said. “But it is really because we play for each other. We are all together, every game.”