April 14, 2011 - 5:18 pm
Bishop Gorman’s football team already had a pair of marquee games on its 2011 schedule.
The Gaels added one more Thursday, at a site that is starting to become familiar.
The two-time defending Class 4A state champions will face Chaparral (Ariz.) in the Sollenberger Classic on Aug. 20 at the Northern Arizona University Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz. Chaparral won Arizona’s Class 5A Division II title last season.
The Gaels aren’t the only Nevada team making the trip. Class 3A runner-up Moapa Valley will face Show Low (Ariz.), also on Aug. 20 at the Skydome.
Gorman appeared in the classic last season, dropping a 24-17 decision to Hamilton (Ariz.), but was rumored to not be going back this season.
“We’re extremely excited to be going back,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “It was a great trip last year, and we know Chaparral will be a Top 20 team.”
The Gaels have a loaded nonleague schedule.
Just six days after the meeting with Chaparral, which finished 14-0 last season, the Gaels will host Armwood (Fla.). Gorman also is slated to host Servite (Calif.) later in the season.
Servite (14-1) finished seventh in Maxpreps.com national rankings last season; Armwood (14-1) was 40th, and Chaparral was 118th.
“It helps us to have a little older team this year,” said Sanchez, whose team finished 13-2 with losses to Hamilton and De La Salle (Calif.). “It’s huge to be playing that early in the season, before you even have a scrimmage. It will help get us ready.”
The Gaels are expected to return starting quarterback Jarrett Solomon, who threw for 2,412 yards and 41 touchdowns, and starting running back Shaquille Powell, who had 1,292 rushing yards and 17 TDs.
Gorman graduated 17 seniors, including standout defensive lineman Jalen Grimble, but welcomes back a host of talent and should be among the favorites for the state title.
“We’re just trying to get our kids to focus on enjoying the moment and playing for Gorman,” Sanchez said.
Enjoying the moment won’t be a problem for Moapa Valley, which will participate in its first Sollenberger Classic.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Pirates coach Brent Lewis said. “I don’t see a downside to it at all. We talked about it with the kids, and everyone is excited.”
The Pirates finished 7-5 last season, falling to Truckee in the Class 3A state final. Moapa Valley’s other losses were to Green Valley and Silverado in Class 4A and Utah powerhouses Desert Hills and Hurricane.
“It’s always been our goal to play the best teams,” Lewis said. “Playing good teams pays dividends for you at the end.”
Show Low (13-1) was Arizona’s Class 3A state champion last season and could be the toughest test on the Pirates’ schedule.
“I’m playing that angle, trying to get the kids to understand the urgency of what we’re doing now and in the summer,” Lewis said.