The Gaels have not lost a game to a Nevada school since 2008, when they fell in the third round of the playoffs to Palo Verde. Bishop Gorman has outscored opponents 285-73 in its last five state title wins – it also won the title in 2007 after falling in the 2008 playoffs.
Cue that time of the year where countless fans and onlookers make the claim it is unfair for the private school to compete for state titles due to the school’s financial backing.
“It stirs up this time of the year every year,” the NIAA's (Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association) Executive Director Eddie Bonine said. “So I’m not concerned about it getting stirred up. It comes all the time. We have addressed it. We have talked to the school a year, year and-a-half, ago and we put in some safeguards that all privates schools have in regards to finance.”
Last year, the NIAA established a committee to investigate Bishop Gorman’s athletic practices and did not find evidence of any wrongdoings. Many outside of the Gaels’ circle claim the school recruits. Bonine said the committee could not prove that.
“They have crossed every ‘T’ and dotted every ‘I,’ again, when it came down to the committee there were no specific cases that could be proven that they have done ‘this’ or done ‘that,’” Bonine said. “They have done everything I’ve asked them too.”
Innocent until proven guilty.
Until or unless the NIAA finds that Bishop Gorman does in fact, recruit, most inside the state offense believe it's time to put the claims and arguments to rest.
Yes, the school's facilities are disgusting (they can be seen on the football team’s website, http://www.bggaelsfootball.com). Sure, their uniforms are more reminiscent of the look you see on Saturday afternoons than Friday nights. And absolutely, those boys are big. The Gaels had eight players on their roster at 6’ 3” or taller.
But when Reed lined up against Bishop Gorman Saturday afternoon, they were looking across the field at fellow 17- and 18-year-old kids. They weren’t playing the Dallas Cowboys (Dallas running back DeMarco Murray is a Bishop Gorman alum).
“You are talking to the wrong guy if you think that I think they should be out, I’ll tell you that,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said minutes after Saturday’s loss. “I will say it loud and proud right now, I have no problem with Gorman being the Division I. They are high school kids too. Coach (Tony) Sanchez and those guys just happen to do things at a very high level. Shame on anybody that complains, ‘oh, they should be out,’ for all these various reasons.”
Howren chose to give that response moments after talking to his 2013 team for the final time, most of which had tears in their eyes. He gave that response while watching Gorman hoist the state title trophy, again, (Reed fell to Gorman in the 2011 state title game, 72-28). He gave that response as he prepared to hop on a bus for eight hours back to a frigid Reno.
He had every reason to be angry and say something he may later regret. But in typical Howren fashion, he chose the classy route. That is what he has turned the Reed program into – one with class, and pride.
“At the end of the day they are high schoolers just as we are. But yeah it kind of sucks knowing they have the opportunity for so much more than we do with the money and stuff,” Reed senior QB Chris Denn said. “But it’s just another high school team and you have to play your heart out.”
Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez is tired of the claims as well.
“I have nothing to say to those people,” Sanchez said. “We are going to keep showing up and working. At the end of the day all we can control is ourselves.”
While the Reed football program has embraced Bishop Gorman playing for state titles. It’s time for the rest of the state too as well.
People too often get stuck on the fact Bishop Gorman is a private school. The fact a school requires tuition, does not guarantee success. The coaching staff must still develop the talent and create effective schemes for Friday nights – or Saturday afternoons at Sam Boyd Stadium.
More familiar to Reed, Reno's Bishop Manogue is also a private school and is successful in its own rights in certain athletic programs. But it is not the power Bishop Gorman has become.
The Gaels are for real and Nevada needs to embrace it. The day will come however when a Nevada school beats them when it matters. Reed showed glimpses Saturday and maybe it will prove to be Howren’s Raiders who knock Gorman from its throne.
Until that day however, they aren’t going anywhere.
Nathan Shoup is a sports reporter for the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com