Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 | 9:54 p.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer sign off on the high school football season by dissecting the final game of the season, a state championship showdown between Gorman and Reed in Reno. They also praise for Liberty for its effort against Gorman in the semifinals.
There wasn’t much suspense Saturday at Damonte Ranch High in Reno for the 4A classification state championship football game.
After all, virtually every contest Bishop Gorman High has played the past three years has been decided before halftime.
Saturday was no exception.
Anu Solomon passed for five of Gorman’s eight first-half touchdowns against Reed High of Sparks, helping the Gaels lead by 48 points by halftime in a 72-28 victory for the program’s third consecutive state title.
Yes, the powerhouse Gaels exploded for 72 points.
The three crowns are a first for a large-school classification team from Nevada since Northern Nevada’s Wooster High in the mid-1980s, giving Gorman a 43-3 record since head coach Tony Sanchez was hired in 2009 with no defeats against an instate opponent.
“I never in a million years when I got here thought we would win three in a row,” Sanchez said. “To be the first Gorman team to ever do that and be the first (Nevada) team in 20-odd years is very special.”
Against what was supposed to be a quality opponent in Reed, Gorman’s offensive display speaks volumes to its dynasty. At one point in the first half, senior tailback Shaquille Powell had three touchdown runs in a span of four carries, finishing with 86 career touchdowns.
Solomon showed why he is one of the state’s all-time great passers, dissecting the Reed defense for touchdown pass of 20, 58, 78, 26 and 57 yards. That was all in the first half, too.
Solomon has thrown a touchdown in three consecutive state title games — another stat in the endless line of impressive numbers Gorman has produced the past three years.
“Words can’t even explain how I’m feeling right now,” Solomon said. “It’s pretty special to me to be involved in this three years in a row.”
Ryan Smith, who is also a junior, has long been Solomon’s favorite target. The two hooked up six times for 193 yards, with Smith hauling in long touchdowns of 58 and 78 yards. In last year’s title game, Smith had touchdowns of 33 and 57 yards from Solomon.
Solomon’s final touchdown of 57 yards was to Terrance Chambers with 51.9 seconds left in the half, a play where Chambers made a few nifty moves and outraced the Reed defense to the end zone.
That made the score 55-7.
The domination felt similar to a typical Friday night in Las Vegas, where Gorman is so head and shoulders better than local competition that the second half is a mere formality, with reserves running a limited version of the playbook.
It was the same drill in the state finals.
Reed, which entered with just one loss and had scored nearly 700 points in 13 games, certainly didn’t play like the state’s second-best team. Gorman has that ability to take teams out of their game.
“You have to play mistake-free football. We didn’t do that. And that is because of them being such a good football team,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “If you really want to be successful and compete against them, you can’t make the mistakes we made.”
Most of Reed’s success came after the Gorman starters were out. Reed quarterback A.J. Silva, who had passed for 40 touchdowns and 2,700 yards, only had 180 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Reed scored consecutive touchdowns in the fourth quarter against the Gorman reserves, but Sanchez put Powell back into the game for a game-sealing 3-yard touchdown run with less than four minutes to play. Arguably Gorman’s top offensive player the past three years, it seemed only fitting he score the final touchdown to go along with 156 yards rushing on 16 carries.
“I tell you what. It never gets old winning them. It never gets old winning these things,” Sanchez said. “The kids come out and they work so darn hard. At the end of the day, to have it pay off like this, it is amazing.”
Gorman closes the season with a 16-1 record and consensus top-10 national ranking. In the three championship game wins, Gorman has outscored Del Sol (2009), McQueen (2010) and Reed by a combined 174-49.