With strong rumors swirling that he would soon be named the new head football coach at UNLV, Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez had to take care of some unfinished business on Saturday afternoon: coach the Gaels one win closer to their first national championship.
Bishop Gorman, ranked No. 1 in the nation by both USA Today and MaxPreps, did nothing to hurt its stature in the NIAA Division I state semifinals, blanking Liberty, 50-0, at Rancho High School.
The Gaels will try and clinch their sixth straight state title — and first national crown — on Saturday afternoon when they face Northern Region winner Reed, which edged Carson 28-25, at 12:10 p.m. at Diamonte Ranch High School in Reno.
“You know what, I’ve got a great job at Bishop Gorman,” Sanchez said when asked about the UNLV rumors. “I’m just trying to finish the season with these kids. It’s hard to answer any questions about that. We’re just happy about our performance today.”
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My sources say it’s a done deal that Sanchez will be hired to replace Bobby Hauck, who turned in his resignation on Friday afternoon.
Sanchez was asked if was worried about is media reports linking him to UNLV might be a distraction for his squad.
“At the end of the day I’ve got one thing that has got to be at the forefront of my mind and that’s Reed,” Sanchez said. “The year that we’ve had as a group – it’s not just a year but the six years leading up to this and kind of creating this pinnacle where we are at right now, playing a national schedule and going through undefeated – we just want to finish. That’s what life is all about … finishing.”
(See more what Sanchez had to say in the VIDEO below)
Bishop Gorman (14-0) finished off the southern Nevada portion of its schedule in convincing fashion by blanking a young but physical Patriots (10-3) squad that figures to be a state title contender down the road.
The Gaels defense, led by Nela Otukolo, Ryan Garrett, Farrell Hester, Nicco Fertitta and Jabari Butler, forced five turnovers that were turned into 23 points.
Offensively, sophomore quarterback Tate Martell competed 16-of-30 passes for 202 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to Russell Booze, and had touchdown runs of 27, 6 and 11 yards. Junior Jonathan Shumaker scored a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs, the first capping an impressive game-opening 72-yard, 12-play drive. And sophomore Biaggio Walsh added a 5-yard scoring run to conclude the scoring in the fourth quarter.
“(The running) wasn’t by design, it was more something just happened during the game,” Martell said. “I saw that I could take off and run. We called a lot of stuff where their D-ends were crashing and it gave me a lot of opportunities to run.”
Liberty was competitive early and trailed just 13-0 early in the second quarter when freshman quarterback Kenyon Oblad connected with Bradley Viloria for a 43-yard touchdown pass that was wiped out by a holding penalty. Seven plays later Butler intercepted Oblad at the Gorman 4-yard line and the Patriots came away empty-handed and demoralized.
“It just wasn’t meant to be today,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said. “You can’t turn the ball over five times and not get any in return and even expect to hang with a team like that. They’re a great program. They’re what we strive to be like, a public version of them. It’s awesome to play them because we get to see where we stand.”
Muraco, for one, thinks Sanchez would do a great job at UNLV.
“I think that would be a great move for UNLV if they were to hire Coach Sanchez,” Muraco said. “I know he’d do all the right things to improve the local recruiting of kids, and maybe he’ll get some of those stud kids to stay home. If he gets some financial backing from the supporters at Gorman, it could make a huge difference for UNLV.”
Martell said he didn’t put much stock into the Sanchez to UNLV rumors.
“I don’t think he’s going to leave to be honest because of what’s going on right now and how well we’re doing,” he said. “So we’ll see. I don’t think he’ll leave.”
“We’re all focused on the same thing,” Fertitta, who played the entire second half with a broken left hand, said before leaving for the hospital to see if he would need surgery. “We’re all focused on finishing this thing. We’ve got one more game until we make history and we’re going to make it happen.”