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4A SEMIFINAL: Gaels look to beat odds up North

Southern Nevada teams are just 1-6 in Class 4A state semifinal games held in Northern Nevada.

Bishop Gorman is out for win No. 2.

The Gaels (13-0) play at Reed (11-2) at 1 p.m. today in Sparks with a berth in next week’s state championship game on the line.

“It’s a tough game,” Gorman senior defensive end Alex Turner said. “Six years nobody’s come out of Vegas and gone up there and beat them. We definitely need to stay focused on the task at hand.”

Las Vegas High beat Reed 21-14 in 2004 for the area’s only state semifinal win in the Reno area.

Gorman will have to stop a red-hot team that overcame a 1-2 start to win 10 straight.

“The first couple games was kind of a wake-up call,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “It helped the team just kind of get refocused.”

Reed has a potent offense led by 1,500-yard rusher Christian Thompson and 1,000-yard receiver Aaron Greenblat.

“They’re really fundamental and they’re huge,” Turner said. “Their line is gigantic. So I definitely think we’re going to have to try to play with our speed and be just as technical as them and just execute really well.”

Reed’s offensive line averages 253 pounds, led by bookend tackles Kyle Roberts (6 feet 6 inches, 275 pounds) and Garrett Corbett (6-6, 270).

Howren said that line may hold the key to Reed’s chance of advancing.

“You’ve got to come in and be able to establish the run,” Howren said. “That’s probably the No. 1 factor in a game like this. The offensive line, we’ve ridden them all year long, and we have to continue to ride them in a game like this.”

The Raiders gave up a total of 85 points in consecutive losses to fall to 1-2. But they’ve allowed just 111 in the 10 games since.

“The biggest thing defensively for us is we play team ball,” Howren said. “We have 11 guys doing their job. Across the board we have so many guys that just play solid football that it’s turned out the key to our team is how well the defense has played.”

Reed will face a huge test in trying to slow Gorman’s offense. The Gaels average 51.8 points, and have scored at least 31 in each game this season.

Gorman features a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Shaquille Powell (1,353 yards, 25 touchdowns) and Victor Belen (1,206).

“They definitely run the ball as good as anybody out there,” Howren said. “If you truly want to stop that offense, you have to force them into passing the ball.”

If the Raiders stop the run, that could put pressure on Gorman freshman quarterback Jarrett Solomon, who just turned 15 earlier this month.

But Solomon has had a stellar freshman season, passing for 1,815 yards and 16 TDs while throwing just five interceptions.

“It’s been an exciting journey for me as a freshman playing on this team,” Solomon said.

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