COMMENTARY: Rankings are inexact, but Gaels rate as great

The thunder and lightning and heavy rain couldn’t conceal the truth longer than an hour, that in the world of national high school football rankings, nothing is certain.

Well, this might be: I have no idea if Bishop Gorman is the country’s best team this year, but it’s difficult to think there are many better.

The biggest prep game in Nevada history began with a weather delay Friday night, quickly turned into a rout and suddenly hinged on the outcome of an onside kick.

In the end, through rain and hail and ESPN seeking Snoop Dogg’s thoughts, Gorman defeated visiting St. John Bosco 34-31 before a sold-out and soggy gathering.

The Gaels will now deservedly lay claim to the No. 1 ranking they were bestowed by USA Today to begin the season, given they were ranked No. 2 this week and St. John Bosco held the top spot.

“It’s obviously not an exact science,” said Jim Halley, who compiles the rankings for USA Today. “There are more than 20,000 high schools in the country and for anyone to say, ‘This one is absolutely the best team,’ is very tough.

“But the top teams tend to be your state champions or those who play the toughest competition throughout the season. If a team is willing to take on difficult opponents, we look hard at them. By the end of the season, we will find out how good they really are.”

Consider: The top five teams in this week’s rankings hail from different states, so to say the side from Nevada is better than the one from Florida but not as good as the one from Texas or New Jersey and so on is impossible.

But the six-game stretch Gorman just concluded with an unbeaten record can’t be rivaled. The Gaels were both impressive and fortunate to survive, and now turn to the local part of their schedule, where overmatched opponents should prove not much beyond practice fodder.

That’s the reality of things.

You have to believe ESPN moved Friday’s game to its main channel and showed Fresno State against New Mexico on ESPN2 because executives felt Gorman-Bosco would include more Division I players.

It really was an embarrassment of riches in terms of skill for both sides, but Gorman’s depth allowed the Gaels to build a 27-3 lead and ultimately hold on. It’s not just the kids of famous rappers and those whose names are on the stadium and those who suddenly feel as though living in Las Vegas offers more opportunity than a suburb in San Diego.

Gorman has players from everywhere and seemingly at every position.

“Year in and year out, I would think they will remain a top-10 team nationally for the (foreseeable future),” Halley said. “They have a better depth of skill player this season than in the past. They obviously do a great job in the weight room, because their lines are always great.

“You still have to wait and see what they do in the state playoffs, whether they get tested at all. Maybe a team like Liberty can be good enough to test them. But (the Gaels) have still played easily the best schedule in the country (thus far) and survived. They were Houdini at times to escape, but they survived.”

This just in: Gorman, which has won five straight state championships, isn’t getting tested in the playoffs.

It hasn’t been in years.

The one thing that might cause anyone locally to now challenge the Gaels would be Gorman losing all focus after such an impressive 6-0 start, but then you look at the intensity of head coach Tony Sanchez, veins popping from his neck and his fury rising with his team leading by three touchdowns, and you figure any kid from Gorman who ever lets up faces some sort of harsh punishment.

Maybe they get banned from the team’s college weight room or something.

Today, though, their immediate thoughts will be on how for most of Friday night, they outmatched, absolutely outcoached and simply outclassed the best team California has produced the past two years, a team that at no point resembled the nation’s best.

“At the end of the day, I don’t need anybody to tell me we’re No. 1,” Bishop Gorman senior safety Nicco Fertitta said. “But we will be able to see it in the polls. We are No. 1. It’s official. We’re the best team in the nation.”


Maybe not.

Maybe someone in Florida or Texas or New Jersey is.

It’s incredibly subjective.

But there can’t be many teams better than Gorman. Not anywhere.

Just an embarrassment of talent.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.