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Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
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It's the game everyone expected for the state championship — Bishop Gorman vs. Liberty. Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer play oddsmaker and try to set the appropriate line on the game. They settle on Gorman -25, with opinions split on which team covers at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday.
- State championship picks
- Liberty makes quick work of Coronado for Sunrise title, has confidence it can compete next week against Gorman
- Gorman weathers valiant effort from Reed, advances to face Liberty in state title game
- State or bust: Liberty hopes the third time is a charm in state semifinals
- Wasted opportunities early haunt Moapa Valley in state championship loss
- Gorman’s defense answers call, gives Gaels fourth straight Sunset crown
- High school football section
The Bishop Gorman High School football team could rewrite the record books Saturday in the state championship game.
The Gaels can become the first Nevada school since the 1950s to win four straight large-school titles when they take on Liberty High in the championship game at 12:15 p.m. Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.
The four straight crowns would equal Reno High’s mark from 1949-52 and Las Vegas High’s mark from 1931-34, according to the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association record book. Lower-classification the Meadows and Virgin Valley, and Reno in the 1920s, when there was no classification structure, hold the record with five straight championships.
Still, Gorman’s run is widely considered the state’s best dynasty. They haven’t lost to a local opponent since the 2008 playoffs and have won each game by at least double-digits or, on most Friday nights, with a running clock triggered by the mercy rule of a lead by 45 or more points.
During Gorman’s run, they compete against nearly 40 other large-school classification teams. When Reno and Las Vegas High were dominating, the state only featured a handful of schools.
Just don’t expect the Gorman (12-1) players to become overconfident because of their success. If anything, coach Tony Sanchez said his players are practicing like a team with much to prove.
“We tell the kids all the time: There will always be a time later in your life to look back on some of the things you have accomplished,” Sanchez said. “But when you are in the middle of them, it is definitely not the time to celebrate anything.”
Gorman is playing for its fifth state title in the past six years and 11th all-time title. Reno has 19 all-time, and Las Vegas High has 16. Gorman has won the past three title games by a combined 174-49, including last year’s 72-28 victory against Reed High of Reno, during which they scored eight first-half touchdown to lead by 48 points at halftime.
When the Gorman offense, which three seasons ago led the nation in scoring and this year has produced 714 points, takes the field at Sam Boyd, it will feature three players in the starting lineup with three state title game appearances: quarterback Anu Solomon and wide receivers Ryan Smith and Jamir Tillman, all seniors. Also, senior offensive linemen Lott Haia-Kahalewai and Tanner Britton and senior defensive back Justin Sweet will start in their third title game, and junior defensive lineman Zach Singer is playing regular snaps in his third game.
That experience alone gives Gorman the upper hand against a Liberty team playing in the school’s first title game.
“(The experience) just helps us for the better. We are experienced in it, so it’s a plus,” Tillman said.
Getting past Liberty won’t be easy.
The Patriots (12-1) have enjoyed similar successes in the Sunrise Region, winning three straight Sunrise championships and not losing a league game since 2009. And, during last year’s state semifinals against Gorman, Liberty twice had leads in the first half before running out of steam in a 56-34 defeat.
“(Liberty coach Rich) Muraco seems like he has done a pretty good job, and they have won a lot of close games,” Sanchez said. “I’m excited for their opportunity to be there.”