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FIELDER’S CHOICES: Getting stuffed for state semis

Thanksgiving easily is my favorite holiday. You know why?

You can’t watch football on Flag Day.

Four teams — Arbor View, Bishop Gorman, Damonte Ranch and Liberty — get to practice in the morning and then stuff their bellies with turkey, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie before the Class 4A state semifinals.

I wish I could do that. Instead, I get to do a list of things I’m thankful for.

— Running clocks in the fourth quarter.

— The end of Durango’s and Valley’s long losing streaks. (You’re next, Western.)

— Stuffing with little bits of dried fruit in it.

— Not needing a judge to rule on the outcome of a playoff game like they did in Illinois.

— Drake.

— Bishop Gorman safety Damuzhea Bolden not making me spell out his first name this season. Thanks, Bubba.

Here’s my take on Saturday’s games:


This is the sixth time in the past seven seasons these programs have met in the postseason, and it’s their third straight meeting in the Sunset Region title game.

Last season, the Aggies trailed by only two scores early in the fourth quarter and held Gorman to a season low for points in a 28-10 loss. Two years ago, it was a blowout.

Let’s hope it’s more like last season.

How Arbor View can win: Duplicate last year’s game plan and feed off what should be a massive home crowd.

Arbor View is treating this as its state title game and has embraced the opportunity to play the nation’s No. 1 team on Thanksgiving weekend. I love that.

Plus, crazy stuff happens in 2016. Gorillas get shot at the zoo, and Pahranagat Valley lost last week, so anything can happen, right?

Why Gorman will win: Tate Martell. Arbor View has an answer for everyone on the Gaels’ offense except the senior quarterback. … Bishop Gorman by 24½.

LIBERTY (11-1) vs. DAMONTE RANCH (12-1)

Finally, a new Northern team to watch. It’s about time, too. I was getting tired of seeing Reed every year.

This is the Patriots’ third trip to Reno for the state semifinals, and they’re 0-2 so far with punch-to-the-gut losses against McQueen in 2010 (7-6) and Reed in 2013 (35-31).

“And don’t forget your booties because it’s cold out there,” Liberty fans. (It’s cold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?)

How Damonte Ranch can win: Score. A lot.

This will not be a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-rubber-pellets game. The Mustangs’ best hope is to step on the gas pedal and see if they have enough under the hood to keep up with Liberty’s 351-cubic-inch V8 offense.

Why Liberty will win: Because the Patriots should have won their past two trips up north, and they’re even better this year.

Liberty missed a late two-point conversion in a blizzard to lose the first time. Against Reed, the Patriots went for the knockout blow on fourth-and-3 in their own territory with less than two minutes to play, got stuffed, then gave up the winning TD pass with 34 seconds left.

The Patriots took road trips to Texas and California this year, and that experience will pay off. Unless it snows. … Liberty by 10.

Last week:4-1, 3-2 (with points)

Season: 78-26, 68-36 (with points)

Contact Fielder at Fielder@nevadapreps.com. Follow @FielderNVP on Twitter.

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