When Bishop Gorman’s football team kicks off its season tonight, senior Zack Singer will be right in the middle of things. And that’s exactly the way he likes it.
Singer, a four-year varsity player, was a two-way all-state pick last season at guard and defensive tackle.
He’ll move to center on offense this season as he tries to lead the Gaels to a fifth consecutive state title.
“It puts me in a position to really lead the entire offensive line, which I really like doing,” Singer said of playing center. “I get to be in the middle of everybody. I really embrace the center position. I really enjoy it.”
Gorman, ranked No. 21 by USA Today, takes on Mountain Pointe (Ariz.) at 7:07 tonight at Gorman in the Sollenberger Classic, which pits top teams from Nevada and Arizona against each other. The game will be televised nationally on FS1 (329).
Singer and the team’s other offensive linemen will be especially important for the Gaels, who lost essentially every top skill player from last year’s team.
Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said Singer’s transition from guard to center has been a key for the offensive line.
“It’s the best thing we ever did,” Sanchez said. “Moving him to center really made our line better. Our biggest thing was, how do you get the best five guys out there?
“Moving him to center allowed us to put Jackson Perry at guard, and Jackson’s as talented as any offensive lineman we’ve had here in the five years I’ve been here. That kid’s going to be unbelievable.”
The 6-foot-3-inch, 292-pound Singer will anchor a massive offensive line for the Gaels. Senior tackle Nick Gates (6-4, 272) is the only other returning starter and will be joined by senior tackle Tryson Mook (6-3, 278) and junior guards Jackson (6-3, 285) and Ethan Palelei (6-1, 288).
“The guys that are starting were around last year, and they were prepared,” Singer said. “Even though they weren’t (starters) last year, practice is so hard and so meticulous in every way that they were prepared for everything that could have came to them. And this year, they are ready to go.
“We look good. And it’s important. It all starts on the O-line, and it all starts up front.”
That line will help ease the transition at the skill positions. The Gaels lost four-year starting quarterback Jarrett Solomon to graduation. Solomon passed for 10,113 yards and 139 touchdowns in his career before moving on to Arizona.
The team also graduated receivers Jamir Tillman and Ryan Smith, who combined for 1,814 yards receiving and 27 TDs last season. Running back Nathan Starks (1,821 yards rushing, 27 TDs rushing) was dismissed from school in April.
Senior Randall Cunningham, the son of the former UNLV and NFL standout by the same name, steps in at quarterback. He’ll be more of a running threat than Solomon if not as polished a passer. Cunningham rushed for 483 yards and seven TDs in limited action last season.
“It’s like having two running backs in the backfield,” Singer said. “Coach can call so many plays. It’s a phenomenal option that we have this year.”
Sanchez expects big things out of senior Daniel Stewart, who replaces Starks at running back. But Sanchez knows he’ll find out for sure what he has tonight.
“The thing that I love about this coming Friday at 7:07 is everyone can stop talking, because now it’s all for real,” Sanchez said. “No more speculating. Now you’ve got to get it done. There’s nothing more American than that.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at email@example.com or 702-380-4587. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.