Kenny Sanchez is in an unfamiliar place this week, as the head coach of a team that has lost the week before.
No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) handed Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) a 35-21 loss last week, ending a 55-game winning streak for the No. 7 Gaels and Sanchez. It is the first time he’s had to deal with a loss as a head coach because the last time his team lost, 28-21 to then-No. 1-ranked Booker T. Washington (Miami) in 2013, Sanchez was an assistant at Bishop Gorman.
SCORE PREDICTOR: Who wins when Miami Central faces Gorman?
He’ll have to regroup quickly because the Gaels play host to No. 16 Miami Central (Miami) on Friday (10 p.m., ET, ESPNU) one of the games in the GEICO ESPN High School Showcase. Next week, Bishop Gorman will play host to No. 6 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.).
“They just have to be mature about the situation and hang on,” Sanchez said. “We got back to Monday and stayed on routine. There is no time to feel sorry for yourself with a schedule like that.”
Central features one of the top running backs in the country in James Cook, the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. The younger Cook ran for the winning touchdown last week in the Rockets’ 19-17 defeat of rival Booker T. Washington.
“Cook is a really good football player,” Sanchez said. “We have to do a good job of tackling, making sure we wrap up and not letting him bounce. We will have to be good gang tacklers.”
Bishop Gorman’s secondary was victimized by several long pass plays by Mater Dei quarterback J.T. Daniels, a Southern Cal commit who threw for 315 yards.
“(Miami Central) doesn’t pass as much as Mater Dei but their quarterback (Tijuane Morten) can throw a good deep ball,” Sanchez said. “They obviously have speed. We have to do a better job on those vertical routes.”
Friday’s game almost didn’t happen because of concerns about Hurricane Irma hitting Florida. Miami Central flew out to Las Vegas on Wednesday. The question will be when they will be able to fly back.
“If it comes to that, we’ll put them up for a few days,” Sanchez said.
Miami Central, like Bishop Gorman, has always been open to playing out-of-state games. The Rockets are 5-4 against OOS opponents in recent years, but in their last out-of-state game, they lost 35-14 to DeMatha (Hyattsville) in their 2015 opener.
Sanchez said his team should be refocused after the loss.
“It’s all about how you rise when you fall,” he said. “How your team reacts to adversity. Usually, you want to try to teach that in a game, not in a loss. What the loss should do is let the team understand they are human and mistakes will cost them. Players have to understand when they don’t have a good week of practice and they’re playing a good team, they are probably going to lose the game.”