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Bishop Gorman opens playoffs with shutout of Faith Lutheran — PHOTOS

It’s been a long 706 days since Bishop Gorman woke up to the sweet smell of playoff football.

The time away was tough but worth the wait, as top-seeded Gorman thrashed visiting Faith Lutheran 51-0 on Thursday night in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs — the Gaels’ sixth straight shutout.

Gorman (9-1) will face No. 3 Foothill, which defeated No. 2 Green Valley 27-20 on Thursday, in the Southern Region semifinals next week. The Gaels defeated Foothill 59-0 last week.

Led by sophomore quarterback Micah Alejado, Gorman racked up 386 yards of offense. Alejado was 10-f0r-13 for 165 yards and a touchdown, and Zachariah Branch caught a 28-yard TD pass and ran for an 11-yard score in the first quarter.

“It felt great just being back out there. We have prepared for this for so long now, it’s time to just put on a show and do what we do,” Alejado said. “This was definitely special. We’ve been out for a long time, and we are just happy and grateful to be here. We put in a great game plan every week, and every week we come out here and execute as a team.”

The Faith Lutheran defense had no answers for Gorman’s high-powered offense, which averaged more than 10 yards per play.

Meanwhile, the Crusaders (2-7) ran into a brick wall and finished with 19 yards of total offense.

“These players are just doing good football things,” Gorman coach Brent Browner said. “The defense, they are assignment sound and play with the greatest effort.”

Gaels junior lineman Aiden McComber registered a sack in the second quarter for a 9-yard loss, forcing Faith Lutheran to punt. On the attempt, junior linebacker Palaie Faoa broke through the line to block the punt, which was sent sailing to the back of the end zone for a safety.

“They have high motor kids that believe in what the coaches are doing, and they just love playing defense,” Browner said. “They have been waiting this whole time to finally not hit each other, and I think they are just relishing in that.”

The Gaels’ special teams also got in on the action, as Jaylon Edmond took a punt return for a 66-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Sophomore running back Micah Kaapana scored twice, and junior William Stallings had a 2-yard push into the end zone.

The victory was Browner’s first playoff win as Gorman’s coach.

“Being here at Fertitta Field playing a playoff game is something these kids needed a lot,” Browner said. “The school needed it, and it’s just good to be back out here. The kids are fired up and always do a good job preparing — and great preparation by the coaches, too. We’re just focused on the mission. The mission is still in front of us, and this is just one step to get to that end goal.”

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