LAS VEGAS — For Bishop Gorman, the nation’s No. 1 ranked team, only three games remain in the season – barring any upsets.
The two-time defending Super 25 champion has won 51 consecutive games and only has five losses in the last seven-plus seasons. The last loss for the Gaels was Oct. 4, 2013, to Miami’s Booker T. Washington. Gorman hasn’t lost to a team from Nevada since 2008.
The Gaels meet Faith Lutheran on Friday in a regional semifinal – er, a state quarterfinal – and need three wins to claim their eighth straight state championship. And while they’re likely on their way to a third-straight Super 25 championship, the annual talk of them playing for a national championship after the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association playoffs has begun.
Unfortunately for the Gaels, Nevada Administrative Codes dictate the high school season ends when the state final is complete. If the Gaels want to play beyond, the NIAA board would have to vote in favor of allowing Gorman an exemption, or the state law would have to change.
Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said Monday that while a national playoff is enticing, and he understands the hype, he has no problem with the rule and likes the format the way it is right now.
“I like the fact our last game is for a state championship,” Sanchez said. “That’s high school football at the end of the day. Our kids get fired up for a state championship.
“I’m not opposed to it, but again, I don’t really believe this is a question to answer because the NIAA won’t allow us to play in it anyway so there’s no reason to discuss it. Besides, the playoff thing is so much harder than people think. It’s finals week for us (and) it’s Christmas break. There are a lot of different dynamics with that, including the fact we’d be off for a month before playing that game.”
Besides, Sanchez added, with as grueling a schedule as the Gaels played this season, it’s hard to argue against their ranking and doesn’t believe his team has anything more to prove.
Annually ridiculed for not facing a team from Texas, the Gaels opened the season against Cedar Hill, and dismantled the Longhorns in front of a nationally televised audience. From there, Gorman knocked off Cocoa (Fla.), St. John Bosco (Calif.), Kahuku (Hawaii) and St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.).
“We want to play the best teams, but since they voted (in 2015) we can’t do that, we just have to do what’s next, and the last thing we can do is play in the Army All-American game to represent Nevada one last time,” defensive lineman Haskell Garrett said.
Garrett will be joined by Gorman teammates Bubba Bolden, Tate Martell and Tyjon Lindsey in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7, 2017 in San Antonio.
Nevertheless, the dream matchup national prep enthusiasts are salivating for, and many believe would come to fruition if Gorman did play in a national playoff format, is the Gaels against Super 25 No. 2 IMG Academy (Fla.)
While the Gaels (12-0) are members of the NIAA, the Ascenders (10-0) are a full member of the Florida High School Athletic Association but opt to play an independent schedule and are not eligible for state championships.
“They’re not No. 1 in the country, they can’t play for a state title and now they want to play us in some other national title game so they could try to beat us,” Bolden said. “It doesn’t really bother me. I get to play (my) last game – the Army All-American game – and that’s the best thing I could ask for, to complete my high school career.”