COMMENTARY: Gap widens between Gorman, Palo Verde

Seven miles.

It is the distance between Bishop Gorman and Palo Verde high schools, between the city’s top two prep football programs, between private and public, between gridiron excellence and, well, gridiron excellence.

It’s just that one has gained a definite upper hand of late.

Bishop Gorman is rolling toward a third consecutive state title, its pursuit never hindered during a 35-7 Sunset Region final win against visiting Palo Verde on Friday night.

The Panthers were 11-0 when things kicked off.

Ten minutes later, you knew the zero wouldn’t hold up.

The Gaels are two wins from again winning state, more a prohibitive favorite than should UNLV ever find itself opposite Alabama.

We know this because after the 100th annoying and boisterous pronouncement of “Another first down for the Bishop Gorman Gaels!” from the stadium announcer Friday night, you were left to either accept Gorman’s dominance or spike your soda with strychnine so as to welcome death over hearing his shrieking voice again.

It wasn’t an easy decision.

But the spirit of high school football — this type of game, this rowdy a crowd, this collection of skill, this level of passion shown by all — should transcend all the charges of how a program rises to such a prominent level as Bishop Gorman. Especially here.

Las Vegas is a transient place in so many ways and to expect the same sort of frenzied following prep football enjoys in towns across states like Texas and California is unreasonable as it is absurd.

It reasons, then, that when such an evening arrives as Bishop Gorman and Palo Verde before a packed stadium, when kids who have played first with and now against each other from their days in youth football, charges of unfairness be secondary.

It reasons that the moment be savored.

The private vs. public school debate has raged for decades, an endless cycle of often heated opinions on the perceived unequal footing of a particular school’s ability to attract top talent while building a prep power with the aid of deep pockets.

Most states own the same argument when it comes to prep sports.

None of this is new.

“I think it’s healthy rivalry between the schools,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. “I know we have a lot of respect for their coaching staff and the job they have done. I’m pretty old school. We try and prepare each week the best we can and not worry about another team. We believe in our system. We can’t get caught up in all that other stuff about Gorman. They have tons of money and we run a program on $7,000 a year. I have no problem with it. That’s the way things are. It’s a private school. That’s how things work.

“I call Gorman a prep school and it makes them mad. Sure, there is a love-hate relationship on some level between us. Hey, I’m from the Midwest, where Catholic schools name their buildings after bishops. Here, they name them Fertitta.

“But we’ve also been able to build a very good program ourselves with great support from the Summerlin community. We work hard and it pays off with being able to play in a game like this every year. If you sit around and spin your wheels every day being concerned about what another has and you don’t, you won’t get very far.”

That said, it has reached this point for the Gaels: The impending realignment of leagues across Las Vegas is by far the best option for all involved, because to have Bishop Gorman continue playing some of the inferior foes it has been obligated to engage is senseless.

The Gaels, before meeting Palo Verde, outscored 10 local opponents this season by an average score of 59-5. Five of the games were shutouts. I have to believe the Gaels didn’t get any better beating people like a drum and neither did those helpless to stop it.

Bishop Gorman isn’t the most disciplined team and definitely not the smartest when you consider how many yellow flags are tossed their way, but its substantial edge in ability should lead to a schedule mixed with national games and those against local teams with a football’s chance of not being completely embarrassed.

The type of schedule that should begin taking form next year.

“It will be a more ideal situation for them if they want to be a nationally-recognized program year in and year out,” Rost said. “They have the funds to travel anywhere and play, so by getting five or so nationally-ranked opponents and then playing good programs in a (realigned league), they could still go through the playoffs and compete for (the state title).

“I have no problem with that.”

Seven miles. Excellence on both sides.

Private. Public. Whatever.

Mostly, it’s just really good prep football.