Gaels well-versed in tuning out cameras

High school football players face plenty of distractions.

There’s school work, and friends, and girls, and parties.

But Bishop Gorman’s football team has faced yet another distraction early this season.

TV cameras.

The Gaels will be on TV Friday for the third time this season, but senior defensive end Jake Smirk said that shouldn’t hamper the team’s focus.

“It’s just playing football,” Smirk said. “That’s all it is.”

Gorman (2-0) hosts Bergen Catholic (N.J.) at 7 p.m. Friday in a game that will be broadcast on Fox College Sports Atlantic (Cable 330). A delayed broadcast will air on Fox Sports West (Cable 49) at 11:30 p.m.

The Gaels are ranked ninth in the nation by Bergen Catholic (1-0) is ranked No. 28, making the Crusaders the second highly ranked team to play at Gorman this season. The Gaels beat then-No. 9 Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.) 27-22 in the season opener.

“It’s pretty crazy,” senior linebacker Nikolas Stonestreet said of playing another top team on TV. “But you’ve just got to try to tune it out and not really think about it and just play like it’s practice.”

Smirk, Stonestreet and the rest of the defense think they have something to prove. The Gaels gave up 40 second-half points in a 52-40 win over St. Louis (Hawaii) in their last game Sept. 1.

“Our defense has got a chip on their shoulder right now, which is a good thing,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “I don’t think we’ve ever given up points like that in a big game. Now, it was late in the game, but that’s been a good rally point. So I think you’re going to see our guys fly around on Friday night.”

Stonestreet thinks the team learned its lesson about maintaining focus. The Gaels led
42-7 in that game before allowing St. Louis to make a second-half run.

“It was a lack of focus, and it was hard to go out there,” Stonestreet said. “When you’re in Hawaii, you tend to lose a little bit of focus because of the beach and everything. But still, it’s no excuse. We shouldn’t have let them score that many points. And we have a really big chip on our shoulder this week. We’re not going to let that happen again.”

Bergen Catholic should provide an interesting challenge for Gorman’s defense. The Crusaders opened the season with a 59-21 victory over St. Anthony’s (N.Y.). Bergen Catholic racked up 574 yards of offense in that game.

“They do a great job with their no-huddle (offense),” Sanchez said. “They tempo the hell out of things. They’re really going to create a fast pace when they’re on offense.”

Senior quarterback Jonathan Germano had quite an opener, completing 16 of 20 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 56 yards and a TD on six carries.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Smirk said of facing another top team. “It’s easy to get up for the game and get ready. But you know they’re doing the same thing, and they’re going to be ready for you.”