Sollenberger Classic moves to Nevada for football opener

<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons above -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2013/04/sollenberger-classic-moves-to-nevada-for-football-opener/' addthis:title='Sollenberger Classic moves to Nevada for football opener'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>Apparently, Nevada’s Bishop Gorman High School has recovered from the perceived snub it got last year from Arizona’s prep governing body. But, if the national football power is holding a […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2013/04/sollenberger-classic-moves-to-nevada-for-football-opener/' addthis:title='Sollenberger Classic moves to Nevada for football opener'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>

Apparently, Nevada’s Bishop Gorman High School has recovered from the perceived snub it got last year from Arizona’s prep governing body.

But, if the national football power is holding a grudge, Mountain Pointe High School has to hope it won’t be the team the Gaels use to take our their frustration.

Bishop Gorman, the nationally-ranked team from Las Vegas, is riding a wave of four straight Nevada state big-school titles.  The Gaels will be that state’s representative this year in the annual Barry Sollenberger Kick-off Classic that unofficially opens the high school football season.  Their opponent will be Mountain Pointe High from Phoenix.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), in partnership with the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, extends invitations each year to the games.  Last year, they chose not to invite Gorman, despite the fact that it was the Nevada big-school state champion.

To make matters a little more challenging for Mountain Pointe, the game will be played this year in Nevada – and on Gorman’s turf.   The August 23 game will be held at the impressive college-like field on the school’s Summerlin campus – just the second game played in Nevada in the eight-year history of the Classic that honors the memory of the late AIA historian.

The event has had some trouble over the years finding an identity.  It began in 2006 as a game between two in-state teams, with Hamilton High School beating Red Mountain High in the inaugural game.  Then, it was decided that a school from Nevada would be invited to participate, and that became the norm for the next few years.

Then the idea evolved to invite the big-school state champions from each state and, for the last five years, that has been the formula.  Two years ago, a second game was added to the day’s menu so that a match-up of small-school state champions could be featured.

It was at that point in the event’s development that the games turned away from including just state champions.  While the big-school champions met in the marquee game, Nevada sent a 3A state runner-up to take on the Arizona 3A state champion, Show Low High School.

Then last year, Nevada sent two also-rans to compete.  Arizona’s defending Division I champion, Desert Vista High School met – and beat – Palo Verde High School, which didn’t even win a regional championship that year.  And Blue Ridge High, the state title holder in Division IV,  romped over Moapa Valley, the runner-up in Nevada’s 3A division.

Now this year, Arizona will return the favor by not sending a state champion to play in Nevada.  Mountain Pointe is the runner-up in Division I and Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic, a Division II semi-final team, will meet Liberty High from Henderson, a Division I runner-up.

The event is beginning to take on the appearance of a showcase for Bishop Gorman, which is probably part of the reason the Gaels were passed over for an invitation last year.  This will be Gorman’s fourth appearance in the Classic, although it hasn’t used the spotlight to its advantage.  The Gaels have won just once in their first three appearances; Brophy Prep beat them in 2007 and Hamilton High handed them a second straight loss in 2010.  Gorman got its first win in 2011 when it beat Scottsdale’s Chaparral High School.

Mountain Pointe has the potential to play with Gorman when August rolls around, but will likely be overmatched, as are most teams that take on the deep talent of the Gaels.  The Pride won 12 games last season before losing in the championship game to Hamilton, 31-16.

Bishop Gorman finished the 2012 campaign with a 13-1 record and a 63-10 beat-down of Liberty High in the state championship game for their fourth straight title.

Liberty, Salpointe’s opponent this year, finished last season 11-2.  The Lancers went 12-2 but were beaten in the state semi-final game by Centennial High, 28-14.

With any luck, there won’t be the drama associated with the game that was rampant last year when Bishop Gorman brought attorneys into the fray over the perceived snub, and the media had a field day as accusations flew back and forth between the states.

This year, hopefully the only battles will be fought by the players – between the sidelines in Summerlin.