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Gorman relishes challenge from top-ranked St. John Bosco, QB

It seems Bishop Gorman’s football team has faced a strong opponent with a star quarterback each week this fall, and today is no different. Except that it is.

This time, the Gaels face the nation’s No. 1 team and top-ranked quarterback when they host St. John Bosco (Calif.) at 6 p.m. Friday. The game will be televised on ESPN (Cox Cable 30).

“We’re the most battle-tested team in the country,” Gorman senior safety Nicco Fertitta said. “We’ve played against great teams; a lot of top 25 teams, top 50 teams. And we’ve gone 5-0 against them, and we’ve been working the same way we have since Week 1. Nothing’s changed, and I think that’s really going to give us an extra edge.”

The Gaels, ranked No. 2 in the nation by USA Today, face the top-ranked Braves (3-0) in a game that essentially could decide the mythical national title.

“We’ve been preparing for it for a long time, and this is just naturally where we should be right about now,” senior cornerback Jabari Butler said.

St. John Bosco is led by UCLA-bound senior quarterback Josh Rosen, ranked as the top senior quarterback recruit in the nation by Rivals.com. He’s the No. 2-ranked player in the class overall.

“It’s really fun going against these top quarterbacks, because you know that you’re going to get some action and the ball’s going to be there,” Fertitta said. “I think we’ve game-planned this team very well, and we’ll see what he can do. The defense is definitely going to show up, so we’ll see how good he is.”

Fertitta and the rest of the Gorman secondary have faced a Who’s Who of quarterbacks this season.

The Gaels saw Travis Waller of Servite (Calif.), the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, according to Rivals, in Week 2. Last week, Gorman went up against K.J. Costello of Santa Margarita (Calif.), the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the junior class.

“I think we’ve grown a lot,” Butler said. “We’ve been working hard, getting better every week, and we’re going to keep getting better as a secondary, and it’s going to show on Friday night.”

Fertitta, who has committed to Notre Dame, and Butler, another senior Division I recruit, lead the secondary. But the Gaels will need to continue to get strong contributions from two sophomores — safety Damuzhea Bolden and cornerback Alex Perry.

Gorman coach Tony Sanchez thinks the two young players are ready for the challenge.

“Bubba (Bolden), the whole thing about him is getting him to play fast every play,” Sanchez said. “Perry, he’s got a lot of confidence. He’s a young kid, and he’s gone up against some guys that are just a little older and more mature than him. That’s great experience. He’s so battle-tested now, at the end of the day, I know he’ll go play a great game.”

Rosen has passed for more than 6,000 yards in his career for the Braves, who have won 19 consecutive games. The task of controlling him will fall to more than just the secondary.

“On the films we watched, very rarely do you see a heavy pass rush on him,” Sanchez said. “It’ll be interesting to see how he responds to pressure, and such. But he’s as good as they come.”

Gorman sophomore Tate Martell also has been impressive since taking over at quarterback midway through the second game. He has completed 40 of 72 passes (55.6 percent) for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns, with just one interception.

The Gaels’ running game has been even more impressive, with Russell Booze (638 yards, eight TDs) and Jonathan Shumaker (324 yards, five TDs) leading an attack that has averaged 264 yards a game.

“We’ve really moved the ball better than we ever have in the last six years,” Sanchez said. “We’ve got to make sure that translates into points to help our defense out and maybe put a little pressure on them.”

Tight end Alize Jones, who will play with Rosen at UCLA, has caught 19 passes for 416 yards and four scores, and receivers Cordell Broadus (15 catches, 210 yards) and Tyjon Lindsey (nine catches, 222 yards) give the Gaels two more strong options.

But Sanchez said the key to the offense might be fullback Alec Lazarou, who has carried the ball one time for 1 yard.

“Alec Lazarou’s the unsung hero of our whole offense,” Sanchez said. “He’s touched the ball one time all year, but if you look at the way we run power and stuff, the kid is just an absolute stud. He’s blocked his tail off.”

Contact reporter Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSeiters.

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