The rallying cry around Bishop Gorman this week has been “finish!”
That’s finish as in the winning the state Division I football title Saturday afternoon at 1:07 p.m. against Reed at Sam Boyd Stadium.
That’s finish as in winning a fifth straight state title.
That’s finish as in becoming the first school since Reno High in 1924-28 to win five consecutive large-school state football championships.
“We’ve got something we can do that hasn’t been accomplished in 84 years. … win five straight titles,” defensive back Armand Perry said. “That’s unheard of.”
The Gaels (12-2) defeated the Panthers (12-1) in last year’s semifinals, 49-24. But Reed, which also lost to Gorman in the 2011 playoffs, 72-28, closed the gap and trailed by just four points late in the third quarter in that one.
“We’re excited because it’s been a long year and we’ve played a lot of great teams,” senior running back Daniel Stewart said. “We’re ready to get what we came for and that’s a fifth straight state title.”
“This is the ultimate goal,” Bishop Gorman head coach Tony Sanchez said. “You work all year for it. We’ve been going for a long time. You go all the way back to May when we broke the footballs out (for spring practice) and it’s been eight months. We’re fired up and ready to go and finish.”
Reed, which scored a touchdown with 34 seconds left to defeat Liberty, 35-31, in the semifinals last week, is led by quarterback Chris Denn. The 5-foot-7 senior has passed for 2,619 yards and 29 touchdowns and also rushed for 1,262 yards and nine scores. Running back Jordan DeLeon also has had a big year, rushing for 1,779 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Bishop Gorman will try to answer with a strong, physical ground game led by senior quarterback Randall Cunningham II, who has rushed for 1,211 yards and 10 touchdowns while throwing for another 1,662 yards and 15 TDs. Stewart leads a trio of talented Gael running backs with 877 yards and 17 touchdowns and is also a dangerous kickoff return man.
“We’re very similar in that we’re both run-heavy football teams,” Sanchez said.