Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
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Back from Arizona, a heartbroken Ray Brewer recounts the costly mistakes that made Nevada teams go 0-2 in this year's Sollenberger Classic. Fellow Las Vegas Sun sports reporter Case Keefer helps him cope by looking at this week's national showdown between Bishop Gorman and Maryland's Our Lady Of Good Counsel. The two also babble semi-coherently on the rest of the week's games and high school football players' favorite rappers. Don't forget to subscribe to Prep Sports Now on Itunes.
- Friday night roundup: Gorman builds big second half lead, holds on to defeat Our Lady of Good Counsel
- Gorman won’t be fazed by bright lights of nationally televised game
- Taking a tour of Gorman’s new athletic training center
- High School Football Picks: Week 1
- Preseason All-Sun team: The best in Southern Nevada include a dynamic duo you’ll hear more from
- High school football section
One down. Three to go.
That’s one way to analyze the Bishop Gorman High football team’s schedule following Friday night’s 27-22 victory against Our Lady of Good Counsel from Maryland in the season opener.
Quarterback Anu Solomon passed for 243 yards and accounted for all four of the Gorman touchdowns to help the Gaels open a 15-point lead early in the third quarter. Even though Our Lady made things interesting late — partially because several Gorman starters suffered leg cramps — the Gaels still picked up a big-time victory, 27-22.
Our Lady came in ranked in the top-10 of multiple polls, giving Gorman a victory against a national foe for the second straight season. And, more important, Gorman’s brand continued to reach new heights with the game televised by ESPN2 in the network’s first high school game of the year.
“We just made a statement that we can play with anybody,” Solomon said. “We are up to the task. If we keep working hard every day, I believe we can get better.”
Gorman won’t have much time to enjoy the win. Not with a schedule that seemingly has no breaks for the three-time defending Nevada state champions.
Next week, Gorman has arguably its stiffest challenge of the year when it plays at St. Louis High of Hawaii. St. Louis is a Hawaii power, and while they aren’t as nationally respected as Our Lady, Gorman will have its hands full with traveling to the island.
They’ll also be tested Sept. 14 when they host Bergen Catholic of New Jersey and the following week when they play at California power Servite.
But, just like Friday night, the reward for emerging victorious in the other three non-local games is significant. Gorman will have continued establishing itself as a national power, going from winning one Nevada championship in 20-plus seasons prior to 2007 to becoming a regular in the national rankings.
To run the table against national-caliber competition isn’t easy, which is something Gorman learned firsthand Friday. Last year, they split against a pair of ranked opponents at home, and each game was decided by three points.
“They are a great football team. We knew they weren’t going to quit,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said of Good Counsel.
“I tell you what, anytime you play the No. 5 team in the country, you can hold on all you want,” he later added.
Solomon and Ryan Smith hooked up for a pair of scoring strikes, including a 70-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to increase the Gorman lead to 27-8.
But when it appeared Gorman would cruise to a lopsided victory, Our Lady rallied to make things interesting. Our Lady closed with 14 unanswered points, taking advantage of a Gorman team forced to play several reserves because of leg-cramp injuries to starters.
Twice in the final five minutes, Our Lady had drives in Gorman territory and seemed in position to take the lead. Both times they didn’t score.
Nate Starks, the Gorman junior running back and safety who is one of the class of 2014’s top recruits, was the most noticeable Gorman player to miss significant time in the second half with leg issues. But he returned in the final minutes to rush for the game-clinching first down in running out the clock.
“When you play against a team like that with that many weapons and that many good kids, you are kind of naive to think you can (shut them down),” Sanchez said.
Gorman didn’t waste time scoring the game’s initial points, driving 82 yards on the game’s opening possession. Solomon’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Smith gave Gorman a 7-0 lead just four minutes into the game to cap a six-play drive.
Solomon completed 13 of 17 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter. That’s why he is considered one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks and committed to the University of Arizona. He also threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Tajon Allen in the second quarter.
On what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown in the third quarter, Smith took Solomon’s short pass and out-raced the Our Lady defense down the sideline. Both Solomon and Smith are four-year starters on the varsity, helping lead Gorman to new heights each season.
Now, they have to duplicate the efforts three more times — and, of course, against local competition, which it hasn’t lost to since 2008.
“We are very confident. We know going into these next few games that if we play like this, or even better, good things are going to happen,” Smith said.