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Sunday, August 21, 2011
Bishop Gorman overpowers Chaparral

By Brian Stumpf

Why this was big: The showcase game of the Barry Sollenberger Classic pitted the defending 4A state champs from Nevada, Bishop Gorman, versus the defending 5A-II champs from Arizona, Chaparral. Both finished last year in the FAB 50 and entered this season highly-ranked, with the winner figuring to have the inside track to stay inside the top 10 and possibly creep towards the top five nationally by the end of the year in the POWERADE FAB 50. Gorman's 42-22 win is the program's first major triumph over a top team from another state.

What went down: After a back-and-forth, close first half in which Chaparral put together two long scoring drives and capitalized on some Bishop Gorman mistakes to take a 14-7 lead at the break, Bishop Gorman took complete control. Head coach Tony Sanchez's team came out in the second half and ran Shaquille Powell behind a huge Ronnie Stanley-led line and Chaparral had no answer for the physicality of the Bishop Gorman attack. On the flipside, the Bishop Gorman defense shutdown the high-flying Chaparral attack, holding Texas-bound QB Connor Brewer to an 11-for-26 for 197 yard passing performance and keeping the wraps on the dynamic Davonte Neal until a meaningless 82-yard touchdown catch with less than three minutes remaining.

Turning point: With 8:44 remaining in the third quarter and Chaparral still leading 14-7, the Firebirds jumped offsides as Bishop Gorman lined up to go for it on a 4th-and-2 from its own 47-yard line. Two plays later, Powell scored from 45 yards out and then Bishop Gorman recovered an ensuing onside kick and the rout was on.

Bishop Gorman RB Shaquille Powell
Made a name for himself - Bishop Gorman senior running back Shaquille Powell: The 5-9, 200 pounder wasn’t a no-name coming in. After all, he rushed for 1,292 yards and 17 touchdowns last year and holds offers from ASU, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Fresno State, San Diego State and UNLV. But after a virtuoso performance in which he carried 30 times for 297 yards and five touchdowns while also catching three passes for 32 yards and a sixth score and even intercepting a pass on defense, Powell stamped himself as an early entrant into the ESPNHS Mr. Football USA race.

What it means in the FAB 50: Bishop Gorman has bigger games left on the schedule, including a matchup versus FAB 50 No. 9 Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) next weekend as part of the ESPN High School Kickoff Weekend (Friday, 9 p.m. Eastern, ESPN2), but the Gaels showed they should be able to hold their own against any team from around the nation. While there won’t be any adjustments to the FAB 50 until after Gorman battles Armwood, consider the winner top five worthy and as long as the outcome is not one-sided, the loser will still likely be in the top 20. For Chaparral, the Firebirds will now attempt to re-group and shoot for a third consecutive Arizona state title. This game was their lone chance to state a case for a season-long spot in the top half of the FAB 50, and they could even possibly drop out of the rankings entirely depending upon how they show next week and how some other fringe teams perform next weekend when many other states kickoff the season. They can play better certainly, but clearly lacked the size on both sides of the line to compete for 48 minutes with a program as powerful as Bishop Gorman.