LAS VEGAS – Last year, a week after his brother Tony coached UNLV to an 80-8 victory over Idaho State, Bishop Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez coached the Gaels to a 70-7 win against Shadow Ridge.
Asked if there was a challenge to match the 80-point feat, Sanchez had a coy smile but answered cordially, with respect to the Mustangs.
On Saturday, Sanchez wore the same smile after Super 25 No. 1 Bishop Gorman trounced No. 21 Liberty (Henderson), 84-8, in the Class 4A Nevada State Championship, the eighth consecutive state title for the Gaels.
“I scored more than him on this field, than he did, so … ” Sanchez said moments after hoisting the NIAA trophy with the Gaels at Sam Boyd Stadium, UNLV’s home.
With the win, Gorman (15-0) is on pace to win its third consecutive USA Today Super 25 title. De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) is the only other team to win at least three consecutive Super 25 titles, winning four in a row in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.
ANALYSIS: What’s next for No. 1 Bishop Gorman?
Gorman quarterback Tate Martell, who had 7 of 8 completions, 139 yards passing and two TDs, plus 81 yards rushing and three TDs on the ground, finished without a loss as a starter (43-0).
“I don’t think there’s a doubt he’s the greatest high school football player in Nevada history, based on his accomplishments and based on what he’s done; and the fact he’s played well in all the big games,” Sanchez said. “Arguably, he might be one of the better high school players ever. If you match his three years on varsity to anyone else’s, and being undefeated and winning three national titles.”
Martell, who is verbally committed to play at Ohio State, solidified his nominations for several national player of the year awards upon wrapping up a stellar senior season for the Gaels.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound quarterback threw for 2,377 yards and rushed for 1,262 this season while accounting for a school-record 62 touchdowns (41 passing, 21 rushing).
“It’s a great feeling, finishing what we started,” Martell said. “It’s been our goal since sophomore year, and being able to accomplish that is just huge. I’ve never thought of this as a personal goal, but more as a team goal to win three national championships.”
With nothing left to prove, Martell’s last day of high school is next Friday. He is a finalist for Army Player of the Year, which will be awarded the night before he plays in the Jan. 7 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. Two days later he begins classes at Ohio State, so he can participate in spring ball with the Buckeyes.
“I feel like I proved myself and what our team is capable of doing,” Martell said. “There’s nothing like playing for this team. All the players we have, they’re awesome.”
Said Sanchez: “I’m going to miss him. He’s a great friend, he’s a great kid, he’s got tons and tons of personality and he’s the toughest kid I’ve ever coached in 13 years.”
The Gaels wasted no time against Liberty (12-2), as they raced out to a 35-0 lead after the first quarter, and never looked back, extending the lead to 56-8 by halftime.
Also starring in the win was Cal commit running back Biaggio Ali-Walsh, who finished with 113 yards on 12 carries and two touchdown runs, while junior Jalen Nailor caught five passes for 118 yards and hauled in three TD receptions.
Aside from one snap Martell took to start the second half, so he could exit the game to a standing ovation, junior Dorian Thompson-Robinson gave the crowd a quick preview of what to expect next season, when he takes over at quarterback.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound fleet-footed, dual-threat completed one pass – 13-yard touchdown to Nailor – and ran for 29 yards on two rushes, including a 17-yard TD
With the victory, Gorman ran its winning streak to 54 games.
Whether the Gaels can accomplish another undefeated season remains in question, as some of the nation’s top players are graduating.
Along with Martell and Ali-Walsh, the Gaels are losing safety Bubba Bolden, receiver Tyjon Lindsey, defensive lineman Haskell Garrett, and defensive backs Greg Francis and Alex Perry – to name a few.
There also has been wide speculation Sanchez may have coached his final game for the Gaels.
“Nobody has offered me anything, anywhere, at any level – that’s a fact,” Sanchez said this week in a one-on-one interview with USA TODAY Sports. “I’m the head coach at Bishop Gorman, and that’s it. I love being at the school. I like working at the school and I’m a Bishop Gorman Gael. That’s the truth.”
After Saturday’s game, however, Sanchez addressed questions from the media, in regards to leaving Gorman to join his brother’s staff at UNLV, if the NCAA passes legislation to allow teams to add a 10th assistant next season.
“I think anyone who has a job would always consider their options if presented to them and see if it’s right for their family, if it’s the best thing to do for them,” he said. “Anyone’s going to listen to other job offers.”
Sanchez is 30-0 since replacing his brother as Gorman’s coach, in 2015.
Asked if there was anything left to accomplish with the Gaels, Sanchez didn’t hesitate to answer: “Yeah, nine straight and four national titles.”