GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Bishop Gorman lost a lot of its 2007 football team that went unbeaten en route to winning the Class 4A state title.
So, when the Gaels traveled to Arizona this weekend for their 2008 debut against Brophy Prep, the reigning Arizona 5A champion, new playmakers were going to have to step up in a big way for Gorman.
But no one did.
With the exception of a 79-yard touchdown run by quarterback Joe Huber, Gorman's offense was unable to gain much momentum Saturday night in a 16-6 loss in the Sollenberger Classic at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"We made a lot of mistakes; we've got to get better," Gaels coach Bob Altshuler said. "But when you put yourself up against a team of this caliber nationally, you can't point fingers.
"You've just got to get better.''
Gorman's defense was successful in forcing three turnovers and holding Brophy's offense to 14 points.
But the Gaels totaled just 125 yards, the majority coming from Huber's big run.
"Our defense really came to play tonight," Brophy coach Scooter Molander said.
Altshuler said he anticipated a defensive duel.
Brophy's first touchdown, scored midway through the first quarter, mainly was the result of a miscue on Gorman's special teams. A poor snap sailed over Huber's head in punt formation and set up the Broncos at Gorman's 29-yard line.
Brophy running back Max Leonesio scored on a 5-yard run, making the score 7-0 with just less than five minutes left in the quarter.
It was the first in a series of shaky showings by the special teams and a step in the wrong direction for Gorman.
The Gaels offense finally found a spark on Huber's 79-yard TD run in the first quarter's final two minutes. The Broncos blocked the try for extra point for a 7-6 lead.
An intentional-grounding penalty and a sack backed up Gorman to its 1-yard line, where Altshuler opted to take a safety instead of attempting to punt from the end zone.
Gorman's Trevor Stuart intercepted a pass around midfield toward the end of the first half, but the Gaels didn't cash in and trailed 9-6 at halftime.
Nerves seemed to be an issue for both teams at the start with three penalties on the first drive. Other than Huber's long run, Gorman's offense remained quiet.
The Gaels made a quarterback switch after intermission, inserting John Therrell. Altshuler said he's yet to decide who will start their next game.
Brophy scored once more, in the fourth quarter, putting Gorman in a 10-point hole.
The Sollenberger Classic was established in memory of the Arizona Interscholastic Association's late historian, Barry Sollenberger, who had envisioned matching two neighbor states' champions against one another. Gorman is the first non-Arizona school to participate in the event, in its third year.
In 2006 and 2007, the winner of the Sollenberger Classic went on to become Arizona state champion.
For Gorman, a rough start is no sign of what's ahead, according to Altshuler, who spoke of redemption in his team's postgame huddle.
"We've got to put it behind us," he said. "We need to leave it on the field."