Las Vegas Sun

January 28, 2015

Currently: 52° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Palo Verde, not Bishop Gorman, invited to prestigious Arizona football game


Sam Morris

The Bishop Gorman defense swarms Chaparral High of Scottsdale running back Zach Skeen during their game at the Sollenberger Classic on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Gorman beat the defending Arizona 5A state champions 42-22.

Sollenberger Classic - Gorman vs. Chaparral

Bishop Gorman running back Shaquille Powell points after one of his six touchdowns during their game against Chaparral High of Scottsdale at the Sollenberger Classic Saturday, August 20, 2011 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Gorman beat the defending Arizona 5A state champions 42-22. Launch slideshow »

Related coverage

Palo Verde and Moapa Valley highs will open the high school football season Aug. 18 at the Sollenberger Classic in Arizona, breaking with a tradition of having the defending large-school state champion represent Nevada in the annual border war kickoff to the season.

Three-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman’s exclusion from the event marks the first time in five years that the Nevada champion hasn't been invited to face the Arizona large-school champion — a fact not sitting well with Gorman officials and supporters. Gorman defeated Scottsdale's Chaparral High in last year's game.

Arizona's Desert Vista and Blue Ridge high schools both won state titles last year and were picked for the event. While Moapa Valley lost to Truckee in the 3A classification state finals, Sollenberger officials say traveling from Northern Nevada to Arizona is too expensive, meaning Moapa Valley would again be next in line.

Brian Bolitho, one of the event’s organizers from the Arizona Interscholastic Association, said the decision to exclude Gorman was made by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (the governing body of high school sports in Nevada).

“If you want to know why Gorman isn’t involved, that’s a NIAA question,” Bolitho said. “We select two teams (from Arizona) and they select two teams.”

The NIAA’s Board of Control met in March to discuss what several feel is an uneven playing field between private school Gorman and the public schools it competes against. A committee is exploring ways to level the playing field and one suggestion is to limit Gorman’s NIAA membership to only regular season games. A follow-up meeting will likely occur early next month.

Several people affiliated with Gorman feel their exclusion from the Sollenberger game is a direct result of the conflict with the NIAA. That’s completely false, says Donnie Nelson, the NIAA’s assistant director.

“With what is going on with the Board of Control and the status of Bishop Gorman, in my opinion, has nothing to do with Gorman not being asked to play in the game,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the AIA requested a list of five schools they felt would fit participating in the game. While he wouldn’t name the five schools recommended, Bolitho said Gorman wasn’t included.

“The decision to send a team(s) from Nevada other than our defending state champion(s) was a collaborative philosophical change in participants between the AIA & NIAA,” NIAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said in a statement. “Palo Verde High School and Moapa Valley High School from Nevada are a better fit for 2012-2013.”

At Gorman, officials were surprised to learn they weren’t invited and wondered why the criteria had changed.

“I’m shocked and disappointed that we aren’t participating in the game, and a little curious with how the decision was made,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said.

Desert Vista, which is expected to be a top-20 national team, reportedly would have preferred to play Gorman in a matchup that would have drawn national interest.

“Our first choice would be Bishop Gorman,” Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds told the Arizona Republic, which first reported the story. “They’ve come down the last couple of years. I thought they would be the team. We were looking forward to it. We’ll play anyone who comes down. But we would like to play the best team from there.”

Palo Verde is also one of the Las Vegas Valley’s most accomplished programs. The Panthers have just four defeats in the three years — three against Gorman in the playoffs — and are widely considered the area’s best team after Gorman. Palo Verde is the last local team to defeat Gorman, has a 59-6 record since the 2007 season and is expected to again make a deep playoff run.

Last August, the event expanded to two games with 3A classification Moapa Valley from Overton beating Show Low of east central Arizona. The pageantry surrounding the event and getting to play in a top-notch facility — the game last summer was at the Arizona Cardinals’ home field — was an experience of a lifetime for the Moapa Valley players.

Sollenberger Classic - Moapa Valley vs. Show Low

Moapa players Taylor Schwartz (52) and Jovan Romero (8) run to the sidelines after their game against Show Low at the Sollenberger Classic Saturday, August 20, 2011 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Moapa upset the Arizona Class 4A state champions 28-26. Launch slideshow »

“We are excited to go back and represent Nevada again,” Moapa Valley coach Brent Lewis said. “It’s kind of like a mini-state championship for us. Obviously, we are disappointed we didn’t finish the deal (of winning state) last year.”

Moapa Valley has been selected for the game the past two years despite losing to Truckee High of Northern Nevada in the 3A state title game. Last year, several Truckee fans took to the Sun’s message board to voice their disappointment for not being included despite winning title.

Reno’s McQueen High was the last Northern Nevada team to play in the game, hosting Centennial High of Peoria at UNR in 2009. However, having an Arizona school travel to Reno, or sending a Reno team to Arizona, isn’t a possibility.

“It’s hard to bring a team from Reno. There is a lot more expense involved there,” Bolitho said.

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

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 22 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. @bobthebuilder, read the article carefully, Arizona had nothing to do with Gorman's exclusion:

    Brian Bolitho, one of the event's organizers from the Arizona Interscholastic Association, said the decision to exclude Gorman was made by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (the governing body of high school sports in Nevada).

    "If you want to know why Gorman isn't involved, that's a NIAA question," Bolitho said. "We select two teams (from Arizona) and they select two teams."

    Although I do think that Gorman's ongoing spat with the NIAA does have something to do with their exclusion. Anyone who says different is full of it. I am not sure why Gorman is acting so whiny about it though. Their schedule is usually filled with a few out of state opponents anyways. I am sure it wouldn't be too hard for them to find another one.

  2. A- I'm absolutely all for Palo, one of the best, most consistent programs in the state over the last decade getting to go. Gorman actually benefits by having at least one bye week unlike last season, albeit it week 0. But the reason given is silly, Bonine doesn't owe Gorman an apology but the least he could do is man up and give the honest reason not some pr story.

    B- Bonine needs to man up and not give some garbage excuse as to why the 5 schools they suggested didn't include Gorman. Bonine says it was a change of philosophy by NIAA and AIA, yet the AIA is sending their champs. It's 100% reasonable for Bonine to call it like it is and say that they aren't suggesting Gorman because their status with the NIAA is up in the air. Makes sense why lie? As much as Gorman would undoubtedbly have a better chance of winning and making NV look good, there's many good things from this decision. There's nothing wrong with Bonine or the NIAA saying that they want to give other top programs the opportunity since Gorman already gets numerous other OOS games. Nothing wrong.there, as a Gorman alum that wouldn't offend me one but, his weak explanation does.

    C- The great thing about this is that this season two other top programs not including Gorman get to play OOS games. Palo gets the free trip to AZ with a chance to represent or embarrass Nevada against a nationally ranked team. Liberty will supposedly also travel in September to California. Very good for NV football. I'll be cheering hard for both Palo and Liberty.

    D- thank god they're not sending the state runner up Reed..I don't think they would have even won the SE division last season. Liberty would have been a better choice but this is good. Congrats to Palo.

    E- While I will be rooting hard for Palo and coach Rost, this game could get ugly. I'd love to see Liberty, Palo and Gorman gain NV football a little respect but the smart money would bet on a big and easy win for Desert Vista.
    We will never be Texas or California, but it would be great to see a program like Palo that Rost has built from day one pull off a huge upset or at the very least have a respectable showing.

  3. Let me recap: Palo Verde, whose principal is the Vice President of the NIAA's Board of Control, was not slated to attend the Sollenberger Classic until the Board voted to oust Gorman in favor of the school with the Board member. Oh, PV's a good program, so the conflict of interest and double-dealing is hardly noticeable. Have I understood this correctly? Please tell me that a public body is not behaving in this craven a fashion.

    When the NIAA changes the rules for Gorman next year they can oust to their heart's content. This year, while the rules still stand, play fair.

  4. Another thing is that this will be huge for Palo to prepare for the new division and 4A top tier bracket. Desert Vista likely will be the best team they will play all season, yes better than this years Gorman. So if and when Palo does meet Gorman in the playoffs they'll be better prepared. I really enrollment has shifted some talent over to Palo as I've already heard it has to Foothill and Liberty.

    I don't like Bonine or his philosophy. He'd be happy with subsidized state championships and certificates of participation. If Gorman goes, then give it a couple years and he will complain about whatever programs dominate. Maybe they'll make 9 divisions and dividing the schools by median household income.of their zone so that everyone is equal, call it communist 4A where everyone is a state champ! Bonine your fight should be against all privates that have no zones and financial aid not just the successful ones.

    However I respect his decision here, I just don't understand why if he had the huevos to make this call he'd make a lame excuse for it. Call it like it is
    Again, no problem with the decision here just think Bonine lying about the reason for it is unnecessary. It's not a bad decision I dont understand why Bonine would make.that call then not take credit for it. Man up. Gorman has enough on its plate it doesn't hurt them too much but its definitely a huge plus for Palo who otherwise would probably play a Utah team at best if not.for.this gift.

  5. What a great lesson for the the State Champions (Gorman), Runner ups (Reed), and Semi-Finalist (Carson and Liberty). As long as your Principal is on the board of the NIAA and your coach is maried to the supperintendant the fact that you came in 6th place in the state championship series gets you in to the game that is suppposed to be between the two state champions. I am sure Gorman needs to move on and get into the Trinity legue in California or into one of the AIA legues but to then screw over the other teams that finished ahead of Palo Verde is indefensible. They are doing what Gorman has been acused of (and never proven) and they are doing it with naked agresion and complete contempt for any kind of fairness.

  6. This is terrible. The KIDS at Gorman earned the right to participate in this prestigious game and the NIAA arbitrarily takes it away from them.

  7. I moved to Las Vegas in 2005. I said it then and I will say it again. Faith Lutheran is the solution to both problems...recruiting...talent level. I've lived in multiple states. Most private schools recruit and give kids a scholarship (aka financial assistance). I distinctly remember recruiters (HS private school coaches) recruiting kids off my 8th grade football team in NJ. They targeted 7 and got 5. Not all went to the same HS.

    The problem in Vegas is the talent is not dispersed among multiple private schools. Once you have one to two more private schools the competition level will even itself out.

  8. Desert Vista High School becomes the biggest loser in this deal!

    Im pretty sure they don't care how Gorman put their team together or how much money they have..they just want to play the best to prove "they" belong with the Nations best!

    And yea "With Out a Doubt"....Carson, Reed and Liberty got the shaft too.
    Lots a teams can call Gorman cheaters..but Palo Verde and the Coach Rost connection just lost their right!

  9. Liberty was the only school that even gave Bishop Gorman a game last season. They should have been the Nevada team representing.

  10. Mr. Jackson why would you hate the boys that play football at Bishop Gorman so much? They have a 100% graduation rate vs 51% for the CCSD. They have a 96% college bound rate. They do over 100 hours of community service or they do not get a diploma. NIAA has decided they want to kick them out. They say they want them to pursue national ranking instead of state titles. They say they should play on the national level. Then they take them out of games they say they want them to play away. Who do they give it to. Not one of the four semi-finalists from the state tournament, they give it to the school that the most vocal opponent of Gorman on the NIAA board is the Vice-Principal of. A man that is so passionate about Palo's inability to beat Gorman that he actually cried at the NIAA board meeting and you have the nerve to call Gorman cry babies. They give it to the CCSD Superintendent's husbands team. When this game is played how is it going to sound when the announcers of the game explain why the state champion is not there. How do you think Palo and it's cronies will look in that national spotlight. Do you think it will not be discussed in all social media and on national television when the game is played. They better win, or risk looking even more ridiculous in a national spotlight.

  11. Come on dude, that's just completely ridiculous to compare graduation rates. Gorman can select who they want to attend, all other schools must accept whomever is in their ZONE, regardless if they are an academic or not.

    Even though I'm not a Palo fan they have been the second most successful school in Nevada the last 5 plus years. However, like tuasdad, I think Liberty would have been the better choice.

  12. No they do not. Because of the no child left behind rules students in CCSD have open enrollment. Each CCSD High School has 4k students. Gorman has under 1500. I have friends that coach at CCSD High Schools. They made it clear to me it is difficult to find enough players that are allowed to play under the CCSD academic requirements. The biggest problem here is the education system and it is a tragedy. I love Mr. Rogers he really is great advocate and hopefully something will be done. Our children are our future. Gorman does not have to recruit. Because they have the best facilities, the best academics and the most reach to college scouts with their reputation and schedule it is the logical choice. I agree. It is time for my Alma Matter to move on as soon as possible but they have done nothing to deserve being treated this shabbily. Brophy competes for the AZ state championship. De La Salle, Servite and Santa Margarita are all Catholic schools and they are the last three California open State Champions. If they have time I am sure Gorman will be happy to compete in another state. That can not happen overnight. When I went to Gorman there where 9 High Schools in Clark County. Gorman was the second High School in Las Vegas. What did they do to deserve being told by you to get out of Nevada. How is it fair to move the goal posts after the game has started? Gorman is the State Champion. That is who supposed to play in the Sollenberger Classic. How do you think it will look when they do the story on how Palo ended up in the game. The reporter speaking with Weepy Dan Phillips about his crying at the NIAA meeting. The video of Coach Rost throwing his fits on the sidelines and then being asked if it is a coincidence that the Vice-Principal of Palo is on the NIAA board. That it is a coincidence that Rost's wife is a superintendent. That they did not make the Semi-finals of the state tournament but they are going. AIA has already thrown NIAA under the bus. They wanted Gorman and so did Desert Vista. I went to every Gorman game last year. Liberty and Arbor View gave Gorman the best Games in state. Liberty made the Semi-Finals. The Gorman battle will wind it's way through the system and it will be what it will be. But choosing Palo above Liberty,Reed,Carson and Arbor View is an outrage. It is obvious inside job and it will be exposed.

  13. Alright Gaels, use this as motivation to CRUSH Palo by 70 points next season...don't take out the starters and show the world who deserves to represent the State of NV. Take no prisoners and make them all pay. It's the only way to do it.

    What a joke. I hope the NIAA gets investigated for this crap.

  14. Aloha,

    I have to confirm / validate that Arizona is little scared of Bishop Gorman and don't want to be EMBARRASSED in their own state, would you???

    Ok for all the people who don't like Gorman's Football Program !!! GET A GRIP AND THEIR REPRESENTING THE STATE OF NEVADA. Btw, no mentioning of names, but you know who you are.

    Finally & at the end of the day, it'll be Gorman again and again and again...............because of their whole program.

    Before anything else, have a Positive & Blessed weekend.

    Theirs a Aloha Festival this weekend at the Cannery Hotel & Casino (Pure Aloha). Come join the fun and you might get to meet an Hawai'i kid that plays for Gorman.

  15. There are no winners or losers. Everyone is a participant. Since Gorman is a 5-A team, they have nobody to play. Everyone hates the best.

  16. Ben,

    You are so far off base with your comments. Not every school has open enrollment, that is for certain schools and is a lottery system. Second there are 0 schools with 4000 student enrollments. Also, Rost's wife no longer works for CCSD she is in Colorado. However, I do agree that Palo is a bad choice for this game they will be down next year and get crushed in this game. I would like to see Liberty or Arbor View. Any one who suggests a Northern 4A team is out of their mind. The entire Northern 4A is sub par compared to the south. Gorman has a tremendous competitive advantage with facilities, money, and hand picking their players. Ultimately they are the only Nevada team who can compete nationally. Nevada will get embarrassed this year.

  17. bghs1982. Come on. Both my kids went to Gorman. As a matter of fact my son was on two of the state championship teams. And yes, he did play, he was a starter. Your point about the graduation rate is a valid one, but look at the advantages that Gorman has. Your point about the community hours is a joke. They get these things signed off on by teachers or coaches for attending practice or going to Mass or doing a car wash. Suddenly a four hour car wash turns into 20 hours of community service.

    I'm very familiar with Brophy and the interesting comparison there is that Brophy is more focused on developing their students into young adults who positively contribute to their communities. While they have some great athletic programs it's not a priority. At Gorman, its ALL about winning and the money. Plain and simple. Gorman knows that winning leads to more donations in the way of stadiums and practice fields. Should that be the priority at a high school? I know it is at a lot of colleges but we're talking high school.

    I too attended high school when there were only 9 in the valley. But Gorman has changed, for the worse. Now, they are an elitist school and simply are one of the "haves" while unfortunately the others remain "have nots" and the attitude and mentality of Gorman has drastically changed. Interesting that the church condones this separation of rich and poor. They will claim they give scholarships but I know first hand that a lot of those scholarship recipients have great times in the 40 yard dash or have a killer jump shot. The pursuit of the almighty dollar has taken precedence for Gorman. And if you don't believe me, look no further than Kilduff. What educational background does he have? ZERO. He's a businessman. And Gorman is now more of a business and a prep sports academy. One last thing, the reason so many Gorman kids get into college is because they can afford it. When it comes to college, it's not necessarily grades. And remember, my kids went there so I know what I'm talking about. You graduated, I'm guessing in 1982, you might want to take another look at it because it really has changed.

  18. The principal of Palo Verde cried when appearing before the NIAA and now they feel sorry for him and let him have his way.

    The NIAA has zero credibility.

  19. The jealousy from the Gorman haters is not only hilarious, but fuel for next season.....Go Gaels!

  20. Is it recruiting... or has it been because of Coach Sanchez taking over three years ago? Hmmmm..

    USA Today had BG ranked #5 in the nation for high school football and that's pretty impressive.

    The State Champs should play the State Champs...

    If the NIAA was running the SEC.. then I guess we would have the loser of the SEC championship game playing for the National Championship next year due to "philosophical changes"...

    Whatever... this is NV vs. AZ... send the best team to go play to go kick their you know what.

    If the way BG recruits is unfair... then that should be dealt with next year.

    Regardless... Don't punish Success. That's so socialist...

  21. Arizona's sports is worse than the accusations against Gorman. Public schools can recruit and there's not boundaries, kids can go where they please. Last year, the team Gorman played, Chaparral, was without their best Defensive Lineman, Jarvis Lewis, because of recruiting violation and he had to sit out the first few games of the season....

    So, AZ high school teams are playing on a different level than Palo Verde....if you believe they don't recruit. So, now the best of AZ won't be playing the best of NV. It's crazy, but that's fine. Coach Sanchez will still dial up a schedule playing against nationally ranked opponents and Gorman will show them they won't let this keep them down.