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October 30, 2014

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Gorman disposes of Arbor View, readies for showndown with rival Palo Verde

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Bishop Gorman High quarterback Anu Solomon during his sophomore season.

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Anticipation mounting for the Sunrise championship game

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Las Vegas Sun reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer disagree on what will happen in the Sunrise Region championship game between Liberty and Las Vegas. They also break down the rest of the week's games.

The Bishop Gorman High defense was struggling.

Arbor View received the ball first Friday in the Sunset Regional semifinals, easily picking up three first downs with its misdirection rushing attack out of the double-wing formation.

Gorman, which has recorded eight shutouts and only surrendered 12 points to local opponents, couldn’t have asked for a better fate.

The host Gaels eventually figured out how to stop the double-wing in recording another lopsided victory, receiving five touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Anu Solomon in a 49-14 win to advance to next Saturday’s Sunset championship game.

They’ll play nearby rival Palo Verde in the finals for the third time in four years. The game is arguably the most anticipated contest of the season in Las Vegas.

Thanks to its early struggles against Arbor View, Gorman has a leg up its in preparations for the showdown. Palo Verde also operates out of the double-wing, giving the Gaels valuable experience.

“It took us some time to settle in, but all in all, the defense did a good job,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said.

Gorman didn’t hit its stride until the middle of the second quarter, surviving several uncharacteristic mistakes — such as star running back Shaquille Powell fumbling three times — in advancing to the Sunset finals for the fourth straight year.

Only leading 7-0 late in the first half, Gorman put the game out of reach with a pair of touchdowns in the final two minutes of the half. Solomon connected with tight end Trey Perry for a 29-yard scoring strike with 1:53 remaining in the half for a two-touchdown lead.

After a three-and-out and a long punt return from sophomore Ryan Smith, Solomon and Smith connected for a 13-yard scoring strike for a 21-0 halftime lead.

“They are a good team. They have good players. They were 10-1 for a reason,” Sanchez said.

Solomon and Smith weren’t finished.

On the first play of the second half, the duo hooked up for an 80-yard touchdown, as Smith found an opening in the Arbor View secondary and Solomon threw a perfect strike for a score.

“We saw something (with their coverage) on film during the week and knew that play would work,” Smith said.

Jamir Tillman and Jalen Grimble added scoring receptions to cap another solid performance for Solomon. He’s passed for more than 2,000 yards with 36 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

Solomon, who is one of 10 players in contention for National Sophomore of the Year, credited his teammates for making plays

“I’m proud of the hard work everyone is putting in,” he said. “The defense is our best offense when they get a three-and-out. And the wide receivers and my offensive line are definitely playing with more confidence.”

Jordan Welte, who had two touchdowns for Gorman, started the scoring with a 3-yard run in the first quarter.

Arbor View’s 14 points was two more than the Gaels had surrendered to nine local opponents combined. Coach Dan Barnson told his players they had nothing to hang their heads about.

Arbor View made the playoffs for the first time in school history, beating Durango last week for the program’s first playoff win.

Henry Hoffend and Donnie Gaskin each had touchdowns for the Aggies, which finished 10-2 overall and will return several of its top performers next fall. They only started three seniors.

“We are only going one way, and that is up,” Barnson said.

Arbor View’s other loss was against Palo Verde, which is the state’s lone undefeated large-school classification team.

The game between Gorman and Palo Verde typically attracts a standing room-only crowd. The schools are located seven miles apart in Summerlin and have a rivalry in every sport.

Two days after Thanksgiving, it will be the only game in town. It’s the type of contest players wait their entire careers to play in.

“They have athletes and good players, and we have athletes and good players,” said Grimble, Gorman’s senior defensive end who is committed to USC. “I can’t wait. It’s going to be a battle.”

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