LAS VEGAS — “Wait!” Biaggio Ali-Walsh cried as he emerged from a scrum of well-wishers and headed toward his teammates. A third-quarter ankle bone-bruise had him hopping. But nothing was going to stop him from getting in the team picture for Bishop Gorman’s seventh consecutive Nevada Division I state title.
Nothing stopped Ali-Walsh, or Gorman, during the game or the season, either.
The Gaels, who won 2014’s Super 25 national championship, illustrated its greatness with a 62-21 pasting of Liberty (Henderson) at Sam Boyd Stadium. Biaggio Al-Walsh had 255 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns; he had more than 200 yards in the first half alone. Gorman (Las Vegas) led 20-0 after the first quarter and 34-14 at halftime.
The Gaels finished the 2015 football season much as they ended the 2014 season — undefeated, state champs and capable of calling themselves America’s best. It was Gorman’s 39th consecutive win overall and 77th against in-state opponents.
Whether they repeat as Super 25 national champions won’t be determined until the other contenders finish their seasons, but Gorman made a strong final statement. Gorman has been ranked first in the Super 25 since the second rankings of the regular season, taking the top spot when preseason No. 1 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) lost to Euless Trinity (Texas) and No. 2 Miami Central lost to DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.).
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Ali-Walsh, the grandson of boxing champ Muhammad Ali and this year’s Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year, gained more than 2,000 yards during the regular season and scored 30 touchdowns. He said he was sure his team could call itself No. 1.
“I think we are,” Ali-Walsh said. “We work so hard in the weight room and over summer on that hot turf and whatnot. It’s hard and I feel like it’s paid off. I feel like no one works as hard as we do and we do deserve No. 1.”
Al-Walsh said jump-cut drills had improved his field vision and prepared him to blow through holes more effectively. As he had earlier in the season, Walsh credited his linemen for helping him run.
“Without them, without my fullback I wouldn’t be able to get any yards, any touchdowns, none of that,” he said. “I give it to them.”
Tyjon Lindsey (seated) and Tate Martell were stars for the Gaels all season (Photo: Greg Cava)
First-year head coach Kenny Sanchez, the defensive coordinator who took over when his brother left for UNLV, said the offensive line had given the Gaels control all year against formidable opponents and in and out of state.
“Every game, we’ve rushed for a lot of yards,” he said. “So that means our o-line’s been doing a great job and our coaches do a phenomenal job of getting them ready to go up against any defense that they see.
“(Walsh has) got elite speed and it the o-line gives him about 18 inches of daylight that’s usually all he needs,” he said. “If your racehorse gets out of the gate good, it’s probably going to be a good day.”
Sanchez said he focused on executing plays Saturday, not winning national championships. He said his main goal in taking over as coach was not letting his players down.
“I didn’t want to come in here and do something different that we haven’t been doing just because I was the head coach now or I’m going to build my own legacy,” he said. “We could care less about that. We’re Bishop Gorman through and through, whether I’m here or some other guy’s here that’s the head coach, our kids are going to work harder than anyone in America, we’re going to show up, we’re going to be disciplined, and that’s all we’re going to do. And we’re going to do it as a family.”
Gorman junior quarterback Tate Martell, who’s committed to play at Texas A&M when he graduates, completed seven of nine passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns. He threw scoring strikes to Brevin Jordan (31 yards), Brandon Gahagan (45 yards) and highly recruited Tyjon Lindsey (32 yards).
Gorman’s defense, which already stifled top teams from New Jersey, Utah, Washington and California, contained Liberty, which had averaged 46 points per game, and intercepted Patriots quarterback Kenyon Oblad twice. A late second-quarter pickoff by safety Damuzhea “Bubba” Bolden snuffed out a hopeful glimmer for Liberty, which had scored to cut its deficit to 20-7 and had followed by recovering an onside kick in Gorman territory.
“I just had opportunities, the d-line did the job really,” said Bolden, who finished with 7½ tackles to match linebacker Palaie Gaoteote for tie for Saturday’s team high. “We’re the best team in the nation because we’re disciplined. We’ve been disciplined since Day One, so that’s how it’s going to stay. That’s just tradition around here.”
Oblad finished 13 of 29 for 156 yards and three TD passes for Liberty, all to Ethan Dedeaux.
Liberty scored on the last play of the second half, to cut Gorman’s lead to 34-14, Gorman scored 28 unanswered points in the second half.
“I would have never thought we’d lose by 40 points, but that’s a great program over there,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said. “They were able to jump out on us early and take away some of the things we like to do offensively, and kind of rattled us a little bit. It was just hard to catch up from there.
“One of the hardest things with local teams playing Gorman is that I don’t know if they every truly believe they can beat ’em,” he added. “And once the score starts to get tipped in one way, it’s hard for them to overcome that.”
Ali-Walsh said he’d ice his leg and would be fine in about a week. He was already looking toward weight training next month and preparation for 2016.
“A lot of kids on the team think like ‘Wow, this is hard,’ ‘This is overwhelming,’ ‘This is nuts.’ … It’s a hard program. But I mean look at the outcome,. you have a good outcome.
“We’re proud of ourselves and come January, we’re building up hopefully for an eighth (state title).”