Anu Solomon and Nathan Starks combine for more than 400 yards of offense.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.
Posted on October 20, 2012
by Case Keefer - Las Vegas Sun