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high school football:

Not without a fight, Bishop Gorman puts down Centennial

Anu Solomon and Nathan Starks combine for more than 400 yards of offense

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Leila Navidi

Deandre White of Centennial reacts after missing an interception during their game at Centennial High School in Las Vegas on Friday, October 19, 2012.

Bishop Gorman at Centennial

Chance McCutcheon, left, of Centennial reaches to tackle Nathan Starks of Bishop Gorman during their game at Centennial High School in Las Vegas on Friday, October 19, 2012. Launch slideshow »
Prep Sports Now

Thoughts on realignment, Centennial's challenge and Green Valley's latest romp

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer touch on every high school football team in the valley and more on this week's episode. The topics, rants and disagreements are at an all-time high, so brace your ears and get ready to take sides.

Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez gave out more than the standard “good game” in the postgame handshake line after his team beat Centennial 49-20 Friday.

Sanchez took his time greeting all the Bulldogs players and coaches with a more personalized message.

“Go win some playoff games and we’ll see you in a couple of weeks,” Sanchez told them.

The victory meant the Gaels clinched another Southwest division title, their fourth in four years since Sanchez’s arrival. But the Bulldogs provided more resistance than any other team had in that span.

Gorman’s 29-point win marked its lowest regular-season margin of victory against an in-state opponent since 2008. It’s the first time the Gaels allowed more than a touchdown against a Nevada team in the regular season during Sanchez’s tenure.

Although Gorman made its share of mistakes Friday — an abundance of penalties chief among them — Centennial also never backed down.

“They knew who we were and they didn’t care about it,” Gorman junior running back Nate Starks said. “They came out fired up and ready to play football.”

That much was apparent from the first possession of the game, when the Bulldogs forced the Gaels to punt after one first down. Led upfront by Jordan Karst and Trajan Pili, Centennial limited a couple of running plays and made Gorman quarterback Anu Solomon uncomfortable in the pocket during the initial drive.

Gorman had hardly punted at all in the last month, let alone in the opening minutes of the game.

“When they came to the sidelines,” Sanchez said, “we challenged the guys.”

Despite Centennial’s best defensive efforts, there was no stopping Gorman once it got clicking. The Gaels scored on their next four possessions, with three of those coming on touchdown runs from Starks, to go up 28-6 at halftime.

Starks, who finished with 191 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries, broke more tackles against Centennial than some running backs do in a career.

“I always just want to fight for every yard I can get,” he said. “That’s what a lot of colleges look for, just see how hard you’re working and that’s definitely what I try to do every time I come out.”

Starks carried the load while the four-year starter Solomon worked through some early kinks. As expected, they didn’t last long.

Solomon broke out in the second quarter, completing seven straight passes with four of them going to senior Jamir Tillman.

Solomon ended up with 230 yards and two touchdowns on 14-for-21 passing. Tillman was his favorite target with seven catches for 133 yards and a touchdown.

“I like where we’re at offensively,” Sanchez said.

Despite a handful of big plays — including a sack by Isaiah Nacua, multiple tackles-for-loss by Nikolas Stonestreet and a couple of busted screen passes by Frank Fertitta — Sanchez was eager to review the defensive film to see where the Gaels needed to improve.

Centennial’s three most efficient playmakers all found some success against Gorman. Senior Coby Newton came painfully close to the century mark with 93 rushing yards. Senior quarterback Austin Turley went 10-for-21 passing, throwing for 132 yards and a touchdown.

The touchdown pass went to junior Lantz Worthington, who caused the most problems for the Gaels. Worthington set up the first of two field goals from Blake Frischknecht with a 60-yard kickoff return in the first half.

Worthington had another return for more than 50 yards later as well as 87 yards on offense.

“The thing that makes them a little more dangerous than some other teams in town is they run a balanced attack,” Sanchez said of Centennial. “They can throw the ball. They can run the ball. They can do some different things where a lot of teams in town are so one-dimensional that they are limited when it gets to playoff time.”

Both Gorman and Centennial would likely need to win two playoff games to meet again. Sanchez isn’t putting it past the Bulldogs.

“Of all the games we’ve played in the regular season in Vegas, this is the best atmosphere, the best crowd, the best team, the best coaching staff,” Sanchez said. “Those guys, they are getting it going. They are going to be good.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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  1. I said Centennial wouldn't roll over, which they didn't, but I was surprised at how hard they played through the very last play. It was great to see the atmosphere stands full, loud crowd, hard hitting opponent kudos to everything Centennial is doing.

    Newton runs downhill and hits that gap as hard as anyone i've seen this season. While Cent fell 70 yards short of their season average, it's still pretty dang good to gain 160 against Gorman. Kudos to them.

    Keefer- while Cent did force Gorman to punt after 1 first down on their first possession, I think it's worth noting that Gorman went 80 yards in 3 plays and a TD in that first possession only to have it called back for holding. That penalty set the tone for the night.

    The last time Gorman had this sloppy of a game against a local team -penalty wise- was Palo last year with like 100+ penalty yards and 3 fumbles. I know Gorman had 65 yards in penalties and Cent had 69 total offense nearing halftime, I don't think I want to know how many penalty yards we ended with but had to be three digits.

    Taking absolutely nothing away from Centennial but like I said the other day, you can't wait until you're down by 2-3 td's to start taking chances against Gorman. Cent kicked onside when it was 35-13 probably should have done that after their first or second field goal. Which kudos to that Gorman D for making that goal line stop to force the first field goal. Cent was certainly competitive. I'd put them clearly in the Liberty/Arbor View/Palo category when it comes to playing Gorman by punching them in the mouth, but when the gap is this big between a good team and Gorman that good team needs a lot to go it's way.

    They had a chance with Gorman racking up so many penalty yards, who knows if you throw a few trick plays and some onside kicks if it would have been a smidgen closer. Maybe they're saving it for playoffs. This could very much be like Arbor/ Gorman's two game series last season when they busted out a few more things for the playoff game.

    It's not going to happen but I'd love to see Centennial play Green Valley they'd be a great match for each other. Up and coming, hard hitting and not scared of Gorman although not in their league either. At least this season.

    Would love to see a rematch against Centennial in playoffs, although I'll be glad it's at Gorman because that drive to Centennial felt like the Oregon trail coming from Hendo.

  2. Sorry to #27 from Centennial but somebody got that leap Solomon did on youtube. It was called back for the record.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abxMiSTlG...

  3. *#24