Finally, it’s football season.
High School Football on FOX Sports 1 makes its debut on Friday night at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT when Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe visits Nevada powerhouse Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman in the Sollenberger Classic.
For Mountain Pointe, it’s the chance to show off their elite two-way athlete Jalen Brown, a Scout Top 50 prospect nationally.
For Bishop Gorman, it’s the opportunity to show there is life after Anu Solomon,
now a freshman quarterback at Arizona who led the Gaels to as 57-3 record and four straight state titles in Nevada.
Mountain Pointe lost some talent of its own, namely All-American offensive
starter Kenny Lacy, who’s now in the two deep at UCLA as a true freshman. But two-way lineman Natrell Curtis, a four-star offensive lineman who also plays defensive tackle, helps soften the blow.
Bishop Gorman had some other personnel losses, impact seniors who moved out of state, but still
has elite tight end Alize Jones and new starting quarterback Randall Cunningham Jr.
The Skinny: Gaels coach Tony Sanchez has known nothing but state championships since he got to Las Vegas before the 2009 season. He’s also never shied away from playing as tough a schedule out-of-league as any program in the country. The Gaels will need to replace Solomon, who won 95% of his games at Gorman, but Sanchez has never had a difficult time replacing the college talent he loses every year.
Bishop Gorman on offense: Randall Cunningham Sr. is arguably the finest quarterback to ever play at UNLV. After a Pro Bowl career with the
Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings, he stayed near his alma mater and now his son, Randall Jr., has a chance to be the man leading the Gaels offense, having patiently waited his turn behind Solomon. Cunningham is raw and inexperienced, but there are few athletes nationally like him. With offers from several schools, including UNLV and Baylor, where the Bears want him for track as well (he’s a 7-0 high jumper), Cunningham has seen spot duty in blowouts but will make his first start against the Pride.
Daniel Stewart, who is a Nevada Top 20 prospect by Scout, will be the primary ball-carrier for the Gaels, though most schools like him as a corner. Cunningham’s best friend on the field will likely be Alize Jones, the 2015 tight end who’s a five-star in the Scout 300 for his class and already ranked as the No. 1 tight end in the country for 2015.
Up front, the Gaels will run behind Nick Gates, the No. 2 player in the state in 2014 and the owner of offers from several schools, including Alabama as well as two-way lineman Zach Singer.
Bishop Gorman on defense: The Gaels lost some big-time prospects on defense, some to graduation, some to moving out of state, but they still have players in the trenches that will give Mountain Pointe all
it can handle up front, including Singer and fellow defensive tackle Jackson Perry.
The secondary, though, is where the Gaels put a lot of emphasis. Armand Perry, who committed to Arizona State last weekend, will lock down one side of the field and will likely draw Jalen Brown one-on-one and Daniel Stewart will also play on defense, going opposite Perry. At safety is rising junior Nicco Fertitta, who was offered by Boston College this week to go with offers from Utah and Hawaii. Fertitta has great range, ball skills and closing speed and can also deliver a big hit.
The Skinny: Mountain Pointe was a struggling program and went 2-8 in 2008, the year before Norris Vaughan took over. Since then, the Pride have gone 40-11, with three seasons of 10-plus wins, including last year’s trip to the state title game.
Mountain Pointe on offense: The Pride return arguably the state’s top playmaker in wide receiver Jalen Brown. The four-star Brown caught 67 passes last year, 18 for scores and is being recruited by literally everyone in the country.
But Brown isn't the only weapon in the receiving corp, Emmanuel Butler and Tim
Hernandez are both capable of making big plays.
Back for his second year under center is unheralded QB Antonio Hinojosa. He broke Mt. Pointe’s single-season touchdown record with 31 in 2012. He completed just under 60% of his passes for 2,255 yards.
Mountain Pointe has always had a very strong run game but who will carry the ball may be the Pride’s biggest question headed into the 2013 season. Garette Craig rushed for 1,500 yards last year and New Mexico State signee Thomas Warren rushed for over 900 yards. Linebacker Wesley Payne got some carries last year as a fullback and may be the answer. Whoever is carrying the ball will have one of the nation’s best blockers in guard Natrell Curtis to lead the way.
Mountain Pointe on Defense: The strength is in the secondary with Brown doubling as an excellent DB. Adding corner Dominique Fenstermacher, a transfer from Tempe Marcos de Niza, is huge. Fenstermacher had six interceptions as a junior and has multiple FBS scholarship offers. Junior Paul Lucas is the state’s fastest player, clocking 10.4 in the 100 meters last year. This will be his first chance to show what he can do on the gridiron at the varsity level. Trey Lauer will bounce back and forth between safety and outside linebacker.
Wesley Payne led the state in tackles last year and has a solid group of defensive linemen in front of him. Natrell Curtis is a plugger in the Pride’s 3-4 defense as their nose guard. Charlie Trevino was an all-section player at d-end last year. Gorman has a very strong running game so depth and size could be a deciding factor in this game.
The Broadcast: Calling the action on the field are MLB on FOX play-by-play announcer Daron Sutton and analyst Ben Leber
(@nacholeber), a former NFL linebacker who also is part of FOX COLLEGE FOOTBALL on FOX College Sports (FCS). High School Football on FOX Sports 1 is available on your local cable and satellite operator.
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