No. 4 Centennial embraces challenge

Just based on reputation, taking on Bishop Gorman’s football team seems daunting enough.

A closer look at the numbers shows just how far ahead of the competition the Gaels have been in recent years.

Gorman has won 42 consecutive games against Nevada teams since losing to Palo Verde in the Sunset Region title game in 2008.

In 26 contested Southwest League games (the Gaels won one game by forfeit) in that span, Gorman has outscored opponents 1,497-57 with 17 shutouts.

Fourth-ranked Centennial (6-1, 3-0 Southwest) will try to block out those numbers as they host the top-ranked Gaels (6-1, 3-0) at 7 p.m. today with first place in the league at stake.

“They’re just another team to get ready for,” Centennial running back Coby Newton said. “None of us are looking at them like ‘Oh, they’re Gorman, they’re scary.’ We’re just looking at it as another game.

“We’re going to go out there and play as hard as we can. Of course, we know they’re talented and they’re good. We’ve got to go out and really be physical and play hard.”

In four games since a 42-35 loss to Bergen Catholic (N.J.) on Sept. 14, the Gaels have allowed three points. Those came on a last-second field goal in a 54-3 win over Cimarron-Memorial.

“Wow. That’s an amazing stat to give up three points in 16 quarters,” Centennial coach Leon Evans said. “It’s a machine over there. They’re rolling.”

But Evans said his team has responded well as it prepares to go up against the three-time defending state champs.

“That’s the thing I’m most proud of,” Evans said. “Our kids embraced this challenge. They’ve got a huge task in front of them, and they’ve been extremely positive. Their work ethic has been through the roof this week.”

Centennial has been a strong running team this season, averaging 229.6 yards on the ground.
And the running game will be vital as the Bulldogs try to keep Gorman’s offense off the field.

“We have to be able to run the ball and control the clock,” Evans said. “If we start changing what we do offensively, they’ll crush us and we won’t have a chance in hell.”

If Centennial is going to run the ball successfully, the hard-charging Newton (840 rushing yards, seven TDs) will be key.

“I’m kind of like the horse,” Newton said. “I get that rock and just pound it. Anything in my way, I just try to hit it as hard as I can and make a guy miss after that.”

Newton said the Bulldogs aren’t listening to those that give his squad no chance of pulling the upset.

“It’s just more motivation,” Newton said. “(People) think Centennial has no chance. They’re not big enough, not strong enough, not fast enough That’s just fuel to the fire. Hopefully we can use it and come out with a positive result.”