Sollenberger Classic: Bishop Gorman will host The Pride

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                </div>The game that officially opens the season for Arizona high school football teams won’t be played in this state this time around, but will be held in Nevada as the […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The game that officially opens the season for Arizona high school football teams won’t be played in this state this time around, but will be held in Nevada as the Sollenberger Kick-off Classic shifts to the Las Vegas area for Friday’s annual match-up between the states.

This will be just the second time in the eight-year history of the Classic, named in memory of AIA historian Barry Sollenberger, that the game has moved to Nevada.

But fans in Arizona will be able to get a good seat for the game since it has been picked up by the new Fox Sports 1 (FS1) television network.

And there will probably be a few additional eyeballs on the game’s development, as the Arizona State coaches will have the opportunity to get a close-up look at their latest recruiting prize, Armand Perry.  The 5’11”, 175-pound senior will be in the defensive backfield for Bishop Gorman High School when it hosts Mountain Pointe High School from southeast Phoenix.

Perry, a three-star prospect who had 54 tackles and one interception last year for the Gaels, verbally committed on Saturday to play for the Sun Devils.  So he will actually be playing against a high school team from what will be his new home after his senior year.

And, frankly, his new home in Tempe won’t be too much of a step up from what he’s enjoying now at Gorman, which boasts nationally-ranked teams in all three major sports.  The school’s athletic training facilities rival many of those found at the college level.  In addition to the field itself, the 41,000-square-foot Fertitta Athletic Training Center, which opened just last summer, includes an 11,500-square-foot weight room and state-of-the-art locker rooms.

They take high-school sports seriously at this small Catholic school in Summerlin.  Particularly football.

Bishop Gorman will come into the game with a No. 25 national ranking and winners of the last four Nevada big-school state titles.  Their roster is heavy with Division I prospects and, despite the recent dismissal of star running back Nathan Starks, will be considered a heavy favorite to hold off Mountain Pointe, which was last year’s runner-up to the Division I state championship.  The Pride won 12 games before losing in the title game to Hamilton High, 31-16.

The Gaels went 13-1 last season and were head-and-shoulders above the rest of the local competition.  They stomped on Liberty High, 63-10, in the state title game.

But Liberty will be on the same program with Gorman for Friday night, the other half of the double-header at the Sollenberger Classic.  Liberty, a team from Henderson that finished the 2012 campaign with a 11-2 record, will take on Salpointe Catholic in the undercard game.  The Tucson school went 12-2 last year and were beaten in the state Division II semi-final game by Centennial High, 28-14.

Mountain Pointe will get a chance to showcase the talents of Jalen Brown, a senior receiver who also plays safety on defense.  The two-way starter was the pick last season as the Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year.

Brown and Paul Lucas, a junior receiver who lines up in the slot, combine to provide a potent part of a Mountain Pointe offense that threw for 2,372 yards last season.  And the Pride’s rushing game, which totaled 3,348 yards, will still operate behind a solid offensive line that is anchored by its highly-recruited guard, senior Natrell Curtis.

Head coach Norris Vaughan and his players will be under considerable pressure to perform since this game will be played out on the national stage; FS1 is available to 90 million homes.

But, while Bishop Gorman is a formidable foe, they haven’t had much luck playing in the Sollenberger Classic.  The Gaels have been the Nevada representative three different times and only won once, their last appearance in 2011 when they beat Scottsdale’s Chaparral High School.

Of course, this one will be played on Gorman’s home field.  And that will make a Mountain Pointe win difficult indeed.