The last time we saw the Bishop Gorman football team, it scored 84 points in the state championship game. The Gaels had 35 points in the first quarter on just 11 plays in winning their eighth straight title.
Gorman, the three-time defending mythical national champions, enters the season on 54-game winning streak and as the top team in the Sun’s preseason rankings.
In its rise from local power to national brand, Gorman has not lost to a Nevada opponent since 2008. This season, despite graduating many key performers from last year, shouldn’t be any different.
The Gaels return Palaie Gaoteote, a three-year starter and USC commit at linebacker. He had 68 tackles last season.
The offense is led by UCLA commit Dorian-Thompson Robinson, a four-star recruit who will see his first start at quarterback when the Gaels open the season next week on ESPN against DeMatha of Maryland. He’ll pass to a pair of Division I targets in tight end Brevin Jordan (Miami) and wide receiver Jalen Nailor (Arizona State).
So, yes, Gorman has reloaded. It’s ranked No. 4 nationally by USA Today.
“This team, we really don’t care what people have to say,” Thompson-Robinson said. “We are going to focus on ourselves and take it day to day.”
Here are the rest of the rankings:
Last year: Won the Sunrise Region; lost in state championship game
One game last season changed the Liberty program's outlook. The Patriots went from being Nevada good to respected nationally when it went into Texas and defeated nationally ranked Austin Westlake. While the Patriots suffered a lopsided defeat in the state championship game to Gorman, their season was already deemed a success by spending more than 10 weeks in the national top 25. The Patriots are again loaded, including four-year starter Kenyon Oblad at quarterback (3,874 yards and 38 TDs in 2016) and a trio of defensive standouts in defensive back Octavian Bell, safety Allan Mwata and defensive lineman Crishaun Lappin. Liberty will again play a national schedule and again should get a crack at Gorman in state.
3. Arbor View
Last year: Lost in state semifinals
Arbor View has a 39-8 record over the past four seasons — and four of its defeats have come to Gorman in the playoffs. The Aggies should win double-digit games for the fourth straight season, leaning on one of the city’s best defensive players in four-star prospect Elijah Wade (Alabama, Michigan, Oregon, Notre Dame and others have offered) at end. The secondary is anchored by Isaiah Herron, another three-year varsity player. Offensively, the Aggies’ misdirection attack is always tough to stop, especially with returner Deago Stubbs (783 yards and 5 TDs in 2016) leading the way.
Last year: Lost to Gorman in Sunset Regional semifinals
The days of Faith Lutheran getting established in the large-school classification are finished. This season, the Crusaders expect to challenge Arbor View for the Northwest League title. They return a 1,000-yard receiver in San Diego State commit Elijah Kothe, have a Division I defensive back in Josh Hong and return quarterback Sagan Gronauer, who took many snaps last season as a sophomore. The Crusaders play at a fast pace on offense, balancing the passing game of Gronauer and Kothe with running back Saundre Spiller. Spiller averaged seven yards per carry last season. Faith Lutheran placed three players on the Sun’s preseason all-city team, including John Schulte on the offensive line.
Last year: Lost in the Sunrise Regional championship game
Basic graduated most of its offense from last season and plans to start a sophomore at quarterback. But that quarterback, Paul Myro, appears to be the real deal. And the Wolves, regardless of who coach Jeff Cahill plugs into the skilled player positions, seems to always be one of the state’s leaders in points scored. Myro will have two proven wide receivers to the passing game with Jordan Gallegos and Zack Grismanauskas. Both also play safety to give the Wolves an experienced secondary. Running back Christian Scales is undersized at 5-foot-7 but is shifty in the open field and will be tough to bring down.
6. Desert Pines
Last year: Won the 3A state championship
Desert Pines, despite graduating nearly 30 players from last season’s state championship team, is still considered the favorite to win the 3A. They’ll have many new starters at key positions, especially on defense and both lines. But by no means is the cupboard bare. The Jaguars return Tyler Williamson at quarterback and have one of the classification’s most dynamic players in wide receiver Jaden Mitchell, a three-star recruit committed to Arizona. The new-look defense will be solid in the secondary with DeAundre Newsome and Kaleb Ramsey. Linebackers Anthony Allen and Lorenzo Brown are expected to be playmakers.
Last year: Lost in the Sunrise Regional quarterfinals
Canyon Springs returns one of the city’s best playermakers in quarterback Diamante Burton, who rushed for 700 yards and 13 touchdowns last year and passed for another 14 scores. Germaine Carmena on the defensive line is arguably the Northeast League’s best player, and wide receiver Keyon White should be the fastest player on the field. The Pioneers return many key pieces, especially defensively, from last year’s Northeast League championship team. Those players are out to prove the early playoff exit was a fluke.
8. Green Valley
Last year: Lost four of its last five games to miss the playoffs
One player should change Green Valley’s fortunes. Senior quarterback A.J. Barilla suffered a leg injury in the preseason last year, and the Gators could never found stability in their offense, missing the playoffs. Barilla could be the Sunrise Region’s best quarterback, his teammates say. Green Valley has experienced players in many spots, including three-year varsity performers Christian Mayberry (wide receiver), Braxton Harris (defensive back) and Eric Brown (offensive line). Brown has scholarship offers from UNLV, UNR and Hawaii.
Last year: Lost in the Sunset Regional semifinals
Legacy likes its chances with Roberto Valenzuela at quarterback. Valenzuela passed for nearly 1,000 yards last season, which is a solid number when you consider the Longhorns had one of the city’s best running backs. Isaiah Whitehead at running back and linebacker is primed for a breakout season, while Amere Foster is probably the area’s best fullback and Terrence Smith (6-foot-6, 380 pounds) provides a tough matchup on the offensive line.
10. Sierra Vista
Last year: Lost in the Sunset Regional quarterfinals
Sierra Vista, which took second behind Bishop Gorman in the Southwest League last season, is strong on the offensive line with Air Force commit Brendan Bentley and three-year starter Tim Asuncion. They’ll be blocking for Jaxson Zibert, who rushed for eight yards per carry last season.
Outside looking in
Not only have Las Vegas High and Palo Verde been two regulars in the preseason top 10 in recent years, the two programs typically found themselves near the top of the rankings. They were the dominant powers in Las Vegas. But Palo Verde didn’t win its first game last season until mid-October, and Las Vegas was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by 27 points. Both, though, could find themselves back in the rankings throughout the course of season. Las Vegas returns four-year running back Elijah Hicks, a three-year starter at quarterback in Zach Matlock and standout linebacker Jake Bowden. Palo Verde has one of the area's better defenders in San Diego State commit Daniel Bellinger at linebacker.