RENO — Russell Booze doesn’t have a famous father, he isn’t the nation’s top prospect at his position, and he didn’t commit to a college while in seventh grade like some of his teammates.
But when Bishop Gorman’s football team needed a spark Saturday, the Gaels looked to Booze.
After Reed had tied the Division I state championship game at 21, the Gaels turned to Booze and the ground game. The senior running back had five carries for 63 yards on Gorman’s next drive, capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Tate Martell.
Gorman wouldn’t trail again, beating the Raiders 70-28 at Damonte Ranch High to claim their sixth consecutive state title.
“We just had to keep our poise, come out there and put up points,” Booze said. “We knew they were going to run a hurry-up offense, so our defense might have issues. But we had our defense’s back, relaxed and came out and put up points.”
Martell threw touchdown passes on his first three attempts, but when the Gaels needed a key drive, coach Tony Sanchez turned to Booze.
“Russell got it started for us,” said Martell, who finished 9-for-13 for 200 yards and six touchdowns.
The Gaels rushed for 371 yards, led by Booze, who had 229 yards on 19 carries. Gorman rushed for 222 yards in the second half, including 126 by Booze.
“Sometimes you don’t have to outsmart yourself in football,” Sanchez said. “If there’s something you can lean on and win the game, that’s your job. Just win the game doing what you do. So we just leaned on the run at the end.”
Booze had a 51-yard TD run with 5:54 left in the third quarter that pushed Gorman’s lead to 42-21. The 5-foot-10-inch, 180-pound running back got a big block from senior guard Jackson Perry to spring him on the play.
“The line is phenomenal,” Booze said. “Hands down, my (offensive) line is the best line in the nation. They’ve been brothers playing together since Little League. And they just come in and focus on an everyday basis.”
Gorman’s line averages 287 pounds. But as big and talented as the line is, Perry said Booze also makes things happen.
“A lot of people say that we make Russell look good, but Russell does make himself look good,” Perry said. “He’s a great, agile, fast kid, and he’s going to do big things one day somewhere else.”
Perry should know. He has been leading the way for Booze for years.
“Blocking for Russell has been a life experience,” Perry said. “I’ve blocked for him since I was 4 years old, and he’s amazing. It’s been great to open up holes for him.”
Booze finished the season with an area-best 1,788 yards rushing. He averaged 10.1 yards per carry and scored 22 touchdowns.
“Russell Booze is an absolute stud,” Sanchez said. “He does a great job. All year long, he’s stepped up and just been absolutely incredible for us.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSeiters.
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