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FIELDER’S CHOICES: Can’t-miss picks for a can’t-miss weekend

If you can tear yourself away from leftover turkey, the crumbs from what’s left of the pumpkin pie, and all the shopping you’re doing to find me the perfect Christmas gift, there’s actually football going on this weekend.
And if you’re like me, you’ll either be at Palo Verde watching the game that almost everybody in the Sunset Region has waited for all year, or you’ll be on your couch, laughing at the TV people and getting updates on the Liberty-McQueen game at Nevadapreps.com.
Either way, it’s a can’t-miss.
The state title game is next week, and this week we decide who gets there. Want to know who it’ll be? Read on.
Bishop Gorman (11-2) at Palo Verde (12-0)
Why Bishop Gorman can win: Seriously? Have you not been paying attention all year? Are you new?
Gorman’s two losses — to Hamilton (Ariz.) and De La Salle (Calif.) — are by a combined 21 points. The Gaels’ 11 wins are by a combined 554 points.
They can run, throw, return, tackle, kick, break up passes, rush the quarterback and push teams around. Other than that, they’re just OK.
This one might require a little more work, especially when it comes to bottling up the Panthers’ running game, but the Gaels aren’t an easy team to wear down, either. They’re deep.
Why Palo Verde can win: If there’s a team in town that has a clue how to beat Gorman, it’s Palo Verde, which destroyed the Gaels two years ago in the Sunset Region final.
Defense has been a constant for the Panthers, who have pitched four shutouts and allowed seven or fewer points three other times.
The Panthers can score, too, having put up 40 or more points seven times, and as they proved last week, it’s not all about running back Brandon Wright.
The prediction: This isn’t 2008, so don’t expect another 50-14 Palo Verde win. This is clearly Gorman’s toughest test from a Nevada team this year as Palo Verde might be the second-best team in the state. Tough or not, the Gaels pass. Gorman by 16.
 
Liberty (11-1) at McQueen (11-1)
Why Liberty can win: We’ve been over the big and physical thing already, so you know that.
I’m not sure any team looked as impressive last week as the Patriots did in dominating Las Vegas. That looked like a team on a mission.
A couple more completed passes by Kai Nacua wouldn’t hurt here, as it could open up the running game.

Why McQueen can win:
It gets cold in Reno. Not Vegas cold, real cold. And it snows there sometimes, too. Big advantage, Lancers.
McQueen is a lot like Liberty, maybe not as big, but the Lancers will run the ball well, throw just enough to keep teams honest, and play good defense. Nick Shepard has run for 1,455 yards and 19 touchdowns.
McQueen also has history on its side. The Lancers have won state titles before. A state semifinal isn’t as big a deal to them.
The prediction: McQueen looked lost for the first 11 minutes of last week’s game against Carson, marching into a stiff wind and trailing 14-0 before coming back. The Lancers feel like they’re never out of a game.
These teams look alike, except McQueen doesn’t do the pre-game haka dance. Liberty is a little bigger, and I think, a little more motivated. Liberty by 10.
Last week: 5-1 (overall and with points)
Season: 89-21 (overall), 72-38 (with points)

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