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The goal at Gorman: Another national championship

Updated August 18, 2023 - 9:08 am

After graduating 36 seniors off last year’s Class 5A state championship team, Bishop Gorman coach Brent Browner said this year’s group is “new, but it isn’t really new.”

Led by seniors who played as freshmen during Browner’s first season in the COVID-shortened 2021 spring campaign, the Gaels have a lot of players adjusting to new roles while having some playing experience in big games.

Despite the changes, Gorman is ranked No. 2 in MaxPreps’ preseason national rankings, and the Gaels hope to claim the program’s fourth national championship.

“This group just gets it,” Browner said. “You don’t have to get on them or yell at them, they just do it. The things that need to be done, I don’t have to tell them anymore. It’s good to have those guys in the building for so long, playing so long, that they take over the team more.”

The high school football season begins Friday for most teams. A “Thursday Night Lights” television game between host Canyon Springs and Virgin Valley officially opens the season Thursday.

Gorman begins its season Friday at Corner Canyon in Draper, Utah, kicking off a nonleague schedule that includes Long Beach Poly in the Nike Football Classic in Beaverton, Oregon, and two other ranked teams — No. 5 Miami Central and No. 15 Centennial (California).

The Gaels are ranked behind only Mater Dei, which won a 24-21 thriller at Gorman last season, the Gaels’ only loss. Gorman finished 14-1, outscoring opponents 857-92, to finish No. 4 in the MaxPreps rankings and No. 2 in USA Today.

“As a team, we want the national championship,” senior quarterback Micah Alejado said. “That’s been the motto for the four years I’ve been here and long before I came. We want to come out and make a statement. This is the class of 2024’s last season, so we’re trying to go down in the record books and bring that national championship home.”

Gorman was scheduled to play at Mater Dei this season, but the teams were unable to find a new date after an eventful Nevada realignment process added a league game for Gorman. The date for the planned Mater Dei rematch was Sept. 15, but Gorman will instead open 5A Division I league play against Liberty on Sept. 14.

Alejado leads a Gorman offense that features the state’s top 2024 recruit, tight end and Miami commit Elija Lofton; senior running back and Michigan commit Micah Kaapana; and a trio of four-star class of 2025 offensive linemen.

Browner said he’s excited to see guys like four-star junior wide receiver Derek Meadows and Arizona commit Audric Harris, who were both injured last season, make an impact. Even after graduating two of its top receivers, Zachariah Branch and Trech Kekahuna, Gorman’s wide receiver room is expected to be one of its best.

But Browner said the offense starts with the Gaels’ left-handed quarterback, who he said is even “more hungry” this season.

“(Alejado) did a tremendous job last year and dedicated himself in the offseason. You can see it,” Browner said. “He’s doing the things to become a college football player. We’re putting more on his plate, too, and he’s responding well.”

Browner said the running backs are “dynamic” and the offensive line works “harder than any group of guys I’ve seen my whole entire life.”

Gorman’s goal is to win a national championship, but Browner said the reason for playing the toughest competition he can find is to challenge the team. Alejado believes this Gaels team is ready for the challenge ahead.

“This team is ready to go,” Alejado said. “We’ve been waiting for this opportunity since we started practicing in January. We ended last December and went right back into it in January. This team is really hungry.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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