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October 24, 2014

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high school football:

Gorman football receives nod in national preseason rankings

The four-time defending state champion Gaels have finished ranked this past four seasons, including in the top-10 the past two years

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Leila Navidi

The Bishop Gorman Gaels make their entrance before the Sunset Regional semifinals against Palo Verde at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas on Friday, November 9, 2012.

Gorman Wins Fourth Title in a Row

Gorman halfback Nathan Starks, left, fights off Patriot defender Jaylen Mitchell as he carries the ball upfield for a big first half gain on Saturday afternoon. Launch slideshow »

Bishop Gorman's Alize Jones

Bishop Gorman tight end Alize Jones pulls in a pass while taking part in the Gaels spring practice Tuesday, May 7, 2013. Launch slideshow »

The Bishop Gorman High football team graduated its quarterback and top two wide receivers from last season. Two returning players the Gaels expected big contributions from in the fall are no longer with the team.

Still, they are projected to be one of the nation’s top squads.

The four-time defending state champions are ranked No. 25 by maxpreps.com in its preseason rankings. They are the first group to release rankings for the fall.

Senior Randall Cunningham, who has scholarship offers from the likes of LSU, Baylor and Syracuse, steps in to replace Anu Solomon at quarterback, and the Gaels have four other players with scholarship offers in their attempt to reload. Gorman has finished ranked in the top 25 each of the past four seasons, finishing in the top 10 the past two campaigns.

“This program is built for yearly success and has the foundation to accomplish it,” Max Preps evaluators wrote. “The 2013 Gaels are talented and have great potential, but are unproven in several areas. Cunningham will be fine behind center and line play will be strong. If a playmaker or two emerges on offense, an undefeated season is not out of the question.”

Gorman might have its hands full going undefeated.

Its schedule includes six games against nationally respected programs, starting Aug. 23 in the Sollenberger Classic against Arizona’s Mountain Pointe High before three games against established California schools: Aug. 30 against Servite, Sept. 7 at Santa Margarita and Sept. 13 vs Crespi. On Sept. 21, the Gaels play at Bergen Catholic of New Jersey, which last year beat Gorman in Las Vegas, and on Oct. 4 they play Washington High of Miami.

“It’s nice to be in the conversation,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “I definitely think we will be as good as we have been in the past. We are excited about (the season). We know we are a good team. We just have to prove it.”

And prove it with new players at key positions.

Solomon was Gorman’s starting quarterback the past four years, and receivers Ryan Smith and Jamir Tillman started the past three years. Their departures leave a significant hole in the Gaels' offense. Also, senior running back Nate Starks, a top-30 overall recruit, is no longer with the team.

However, the cupboard is far from empty.

In addition to Cunningham, who rivals.com considers a three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 13 overall quarterback prospect, Gorman returns Alize Jones, the top-rated tight end for the class of 2015. Add in offensive lineman Nick Gates, who has been offered scholarships by Alabama and others, and it’s easy to see why Sanchez is confident about his team.

Defensively, safety Armand Perry is another three-star recruit with scholarship offers from Arizona State, Cal and others. Also, defensive lineman Zack Singer is a four-year starter.

It’s a group of players with one small accomplishment — being ranked in the preseason.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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