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December 21, 2014

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PREP FOOTBALL:

Gorman, Palo Verde set for anticipated football game

Sunset Regional semifinals will have championship-game feel for perennial powers

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Richard Brian

Palo Verde players celebrate their 50-14 Sunset Regional championship victory over Bishop Gorman in 2008.

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Palo/Gorman clash has arrived

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Las Vegas Sun reporters Ray Brewer and Steve Silver salivate over this week's Palo Verde/Bishop Gorman Regional Semifinal match-up. Brewer and Silver also breakdown every other playoff game this week.

If you go

  • WHAT: Sunset Regional semifinals football game
  • WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13
  • WHERE: Palo Verde High at Bishop Gorman, 5959 S. Hualapai Way
  • COST: $5 for students, $7 for adults

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A star-studded high school football game of this magnitude is a rarity in Las Vegas.

But, with the season on the line Friday night for two of Southern Nevada’s marquee programs, this playoff tilt has the makings of a classic.

Bishop Gorman High, the often controversial private school, hosts public school power Palo Verde at 7 p.m. Friday in the Sunset Regional semifinals. The schools, which are both located in Summerlin, are less than a 10-minute drive away from each other in adding fuel to the rivalry’s fire.

The victor will emerge as the clear-cut favorite to capture the large-school state title in early December, while the loser will see its season end prematurely.

The game, which will feature nine seniors with Division I scholarship offers and two of the top juniors in the nation, is arguably one of the most anticipated local high school games in recent memory.

It’s a game the players wait the entire lives to play in, a contest where everyone will have their chin-straps fastened a little tighter.

“This game is no joke,” Palo Verde senior defensive lineman Daniel Godkin said. “They are a powerhouse. We are a powerhouse. It’s doesn’t get any bigger than that.”

For Gorman, it will be a chance to make amends for a humiliating 50-14 loss to Palo Verde in last year’s Sunset title game.

“By far that was the biggest loss in my sports career,” said Gorman tight end Xavier Grimble, who is committed to Southern California. “I never thought I would experience a loss like that.”

That’s something Gorman first-year coach Tony Sanchez learned last spring during his first week on the job. He sat down with the program’s returning players and asked them their goals for the upcoming season.

To a man, the response was similar — beat Palo Verde.

“The kids didn’t talk about state, they talked about beating Palo and the bad taste they had in their mouth from last year,” Sanchez said.

It’s the same feeling Palo Verde had in 2007 when it lost 24-20 to Gorman in the regional finals. The Gaels drove the length of the field in the final two minutes and scored the winning touchdown with less than 30 seconds to play to hand Palo Verde its lone loss of the season.

Both coaches expect this year’s contest to resemble the 2007 tilt — a back-and-forth game decided by which team makes the least amount of mistakes.

“Every year we tell our kids that if they work hard in the offseason they will get to play in these type of games,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said.

Palo Verde has played in the state semifinals over Thanksgiving weekend the last seven seasons — the ‘07 regional title game was also the semifinals — and has every intention of continuing the streak.

The Panthers (10-1) were upset by Legacy in Northwest Division play during the regular season in dropping to the No. 2 seed for the playoffs and setting up an early contest with undefeated and hardly challenged Gorman (11-0).

Most assumed at the beginning of the year the teams would eventually meet the Sunset title game. But Friday’s winner will play the winner of the other Sunset semifinal, between host Legacy and Cimarron-Memorial, next Friday for the title.

“We have to match their intensity because Palo Verde always comes out fired up,” Gorman senior defensive end Alex Turner said.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].

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