Bishop Gorman safety Nicco Fertitta says he doesn’t mind the target that comes with being on the No. 1 ranked team in the nation by USA Today.
In fact, he enjoys it.
“I love it. I love being at the top. Having a target on your back, there’s nothing better,” the Notre Dame-bound Fertitta said after the Gaels rolled past Brophy Prep of Phoenix, 44-0, in the Sollenberger Classic on Friday night at Fertitta Field. “But we’re not really focused on having a target on our back. We’re just another team trying to go 2-0 now.”
The Gaels did it with a dominating defense that held the Broncos to just 98 total yards and also forced a pair of interceptions by weakside linebacker Ikem Okeke and safety Bryce Garcia. Brophy Prep drove only as far as the Bishop Gorman 30-yard line on its final drive of the night that ended with Garcia’s interception.
“That was the No. 1 goal, to go 1-0 and of course as a defense not get scored on,” said Fertitta, who set the tone with a fumble recovery on the first play of the game and also a crushing sideline hit a few minutes later. “We really played well tonight. I thought everybody played well as a unit. I don’t think people thought we were as good as were and I think we’re only going to get better.
“Dropping a donut (shutout) was legit.”
Bishop Gorman’s offense also wasn’t too shabby.
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The Gaels finished with 365 total yards and scored on six straight possessions en route to a 37-0 lead with 11:45 to go in the third quarter. Thankfully, there was a running clock for the final seven minutes of the game after Russell Booze’s 6-yard touchdown run up the middle made it 44-0, capping a 80-yard, 16-play drive.
Booze and Jonathan Shumaker, who rushed for a game-high 75 yards on just five carries, each rushed for a pair of touchdowns while impressive sophomore Biaggio Walsh added another. Starting quarterback Danny Hong overcame an interception on his first pass of the game to complete 8-of-12 passes for 160 yards, including an 80-yarder to UCLA-bound tight end Alize Jones up the left sideline on the first play of the second half. And kicker Gage Wilson, outstanding on kickoffs all night, added a 37-yard field goal.
“Week one are we where we want to be? No, but we’ll get better,” Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “The three running backs looked fantastic. But we know we’re going to be able to run the football.”
If Friday night’s opener is any indication, the Gaels can also count on a pretty dominating defense.
“Every single game you want to get a shutout,” Fertitta said. “Starting off the season like this is really special. I think this gives us a lot of confidence going forward.”
(Jonathan Shumaker photo by Robert Vendettoli)