Archive for November, 2014



On Nov. 18, in an exclusive interview, Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez spoke about his six-year tenure there, how he’s built the program, this year’s postseason and what’s up next for him. Photo: W.G. Ramirez

By W.G. Ramirez

Well, that escalated quickly.

UNLV coach Bobby Hauck told Tina Kunzer-Murphy on Friday that he is resigning his position after coaching the team in Saturday’s season-ending game against UNR, at Sam Boyd Stadium.

And hours after the press release surfaced and Kunzer-Murphy answered additional questions, social media blew up with rumors that Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez was the leading candidate to replace Hauck, with tens of millions of dollars following him from the Fertitta family.

The Fertittas, big backers of Gorman’s athletic program, specifically football, will reportedly pay the$400,000 buyout for Hauck – tweeted first by the Review Journal’s Mark Anderson.

“We were given an opportunity to get it done here at UNLV and we simply did not win enough games,” said Hauck, who has two years left on a contract that was extended after he led the Rebels to a bowl game last season. “It’s my responsibility to push the program forward and I wish we would have produced better results.”

As he heads into Saturday’s Battle for the Fremont Cannon, Hauck will be finishing his fifth year at UNLV and 12th overall as a head coach. He was 15-48 with the Rebels, including 11-27 in the Mountain West Conference. Prior to becoming the 10th head coach in UNLV history, he compiled an 80-17 mark at the FCS-level University of Montana from 2003-09.

The Rebels go into Saturday’s finale with a record of 2-10 overall and 1-6 in league play.

“No one has worked harder in trying to achieve consistent success with our football program than Coach Hauck and we thank him for his dedication and leadership,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “He and his staff have worked tirelessly in trying to achieve the results we all want to see but it unfortunately has not happened.”

According to several sources, the Fertitta family is willing to inject enough money into UNLV’s program if in fact Sanchez wants the job.

The move would make sense, as Lorenzo Fertitta’s son, Nico, is a senior defensive back headed for Notre Dame next season. Sanchez and the Gaels are on the brink of another state title, not to mention capturing the mythical national championship for being ranked No. 1 in several polls. At this point, there might not be much more to achieve at Gorman, as the foundation has been laid for the next era of Gael football.

When I spoke with Sanchez last week, for my 1-on-1 interview I released on Thanksgiving, we spoke about his future and what was next for him. He didn’t shy away from the question, but he also didn’t necessarily give me a direct answer.

Coy smiles and slight head nods tend to speak in volumes.

“‘Take every job like it’s your last and you won’t screw it up’ was the greatest advice I ever received,” Sanchez said. “I’ve always felt if you treat people right, if you do the right thing and if you work hard, you don’t make excuses and you stand for something, there’s always going to be possibility and opportunity out there for ya.”

Well, the possibility is now there, and once the Rebels conclude their season Saturday, and the Gaels wrap up what should be their sixth-straight state championship next week, the opportunity would be waiting. Sanchez, who helped shape Northern California’s California High in a five-year span, would easily have a pipeline to local talent, as the city’s top prep players would obviously be familiar with what he’s done at Gorman. The Gaels have several unsigned seniors – including star running back Russell Booze – and talented underclassmen who undoubtedly would consider following their high school coach if he bolted for the Rebels.

“We’re going a million miles an hour (right now),” Sanchez said. “I’m trying to get my kids recruited right now, we’re trying to finish the football season and really, we just really want to finish this thing strong. I don’t take too much time to worry about what’s going to happen later.

“I always treat people right cause you never know who’s going to show up in your corner down the road.”

By the looks of it, Kunzer-Murphy, the Fertittas and the Rebels are waiting just down the road.



Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez stands among his players after every game and sings the school song to the fans.


By W.G. Ramirez

“Now that we’ve won, we have the pleasure and the honor to practice this beautiful game of football on Thanksgiving morning,” Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez told his Gaels after dispatching Arbor View in last week’s Sunset Regional championship game.

So while you were preparing for your day filled with football, family and food – who doesn’t do that on Thanksgiving – Sanchez was where he feels most comfortable: Fertitta Field with his Gaels, getting ready for Saturday’s state semifinal against Sunrise Region champ Liberty.

“I got what I think is one of the greatest jobs in the world. I do what I love, I coach high school football, I’ve got an unbelievable staff, I work at the greatest school in the world with the greatest faculty and staff and administration and look where my office is, look where my classroom is – I’ve got the nicest classroom in the city,” Sanchez said, during a 1-on-1 interview last week, prior to his Gaels’ win over Arbor View.

It’s been a long ascension for Sanchez, resurrecting Bishop Gorman’s football program, which to some degree receives its fair share of criticism. A portion of the hate spewed toward the Gaels’ national powerhouse is from rivals, usually after they’ve been stomped into submission. But more of it is simply regurgitated comments from people who don’t know any better, and simply repeat what they hear.

But what many people don’t know is the man who was brought to Las Vegas from California, and who has led the Gaels to five straight state championships behind discipline, work ethic, values and good ol’ fashioned blue-collar football labor.


Sanchez took over in March of 2009, after building California High School into a dominant state program over a previous five-year span. Heeding the advice of a friend about a vacancy at Gorman, he took a shot and threw his name in the ring.

“I didn’t know how serious I was going to take it, but I saw the possibility,” Sanchez said. “You just saw a lot of real great possibilities. You saw the buy-in from the community, you saw the buy-in from the alumni. Gorman has a tradition like no other. The people that graduated from Gorman love the school and they give back to the school. They’re a part of the school.”

At the time, there was no Cadillac-like stadium. The Gaels were practicing on a small patch of grass behind where Fertitta Stadium now sits. There was no first-class weight room, as there might have been 10 racks to train on. There might have been just more than 100 kids in the entire program. It was a different culture, according to Sanchez, and most importantly – the first thing he pointed out – the Gaels were picked to lose to Palo Verde. After all, the Panthers won the year prior in blowout fashion.

Now, Fertitta Stadium has all the bells and whistles a high school football stadium could ask for, the 41,324-square-foot Fertitta Athletic Training Center includes a four-lane, 60-yard track, a 90-seat classroom and an athletic training room with a hydrotherapy pool and ice bath. There are now more than 170 kids in the program, and oh yeah, the Gaels are ranked No. 1 in the country.

“Gorman had a lot of talented kids so I knew there was gonna be a lot of heavy lifting involved in regards to creating a disciplined culture, getting kids to do the things the right way, buying into a year-round program, sacrificing a lot more time in the summer – just creating a sense of discipline,” Sanchez said.

And by doing his job of instilling the right mindset with his program, the parents and boosters followed suit. Let’s be frank, Bishop Gorman does have some wealthy alumni, and the campus didn’t move from Maryland Parkway because the private entity wasn’t receiving donations and because tuitions weren’t increasing. But they also weren’t just going to throw money around without the right guy in place, to build a nationally ranked program.

“How many people on a Friday night that don’t have any kids at a high school are coming back 40 years after they graduate – that’s pretty special,” Sanchez said. “That doesn’t happen many places in the country. But it happens at Gorman.”


It didn’t take long once Sanchez took over, as the Gaels went a perfect 15-0 on their way to the state title, with a 62-21 victory over Del Sol. The Gaels tallied 798 points in 2009 and led the nation in points scored. Some might say the competition Gorman faced wasn’t near as good as the teams in California, Texas or Florida, but they may be the same people who say their glass is half empty. Those with a glass half full, saw Gorman finish No. 25 in the nation, according to Prep Nation, and Sanchez being named a Max Preps National Coach of the Year finalist.


Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez has led the Gaels to five straight state championships.

Nothing has changed the past four seasons, either, as the Gaels have reeled off state titles each year, slowly climbing in the national polls and creeping their way into living rooms on national TV, including numerous appearances on ESPN. In 2010 the Gaels outscored opponents by a combined score of 692-101. In 2011 the Gaels took on three nationally ranked teams – beating then-No. 10 Chaparral (Ariz.) 42-22, knocking off then-No. 13 Servite (Calif.) 31-28, and suffering its only loss to the nation’s then second-ranked Armwood (Fla.) 20-17. They finished the season ranked fifth nationally by USA Today.

While averaging 55.5 points per game in 2012, they finished the season ranked ninth in the nation by USAT. Last year, in traveling as far as New Jersey and hosting the No. 1 team in the nation, the Gaels seemingly benched their mark thanks to arguably the toughest non-conference schedule in the nation. They finished 17th in the nation, but the foundation was laid for this year’s run to No. 1.

“Looking back six years, it’s just unbelievable to think about the places we’ve traveled, the teams that we’ve played, the games we’ve been in, building this program to a point where it’s nationally recognized. The deal we have with Nike and the relationship we have there, the way the alumni have really stepped up and supported us in so many different ways,” he said. “And as it’s gotten harder, the refreshing thing is that you have faith in kids because things are hard here. Every day we work, it’s a grind, they’re accountable, we’re in their face and the numbers keep growing and growing. It just shows the kids want to be a part of something like that.”

Sanchez said he’s exceeded his expectations from original goals, and isn’t done with what he’s started.


With success comes adversity. Sanchez, his coaches and the Gaels don’t necessarily face much of that in terms of local competition. I mean, they haven’t lost to a local school since Sanchez got here. For his coaches, their adversity is living up to his expectations and fulfilling the model he brought to Las Vegas by executing it with each coach’s unit. For the players, it’s taking that model, perfecting it and then putting it on the field.

For Sanchez, well, he’s at the top. So his adversity is to make sure the vehicle continues to run smooth.


Gaels coach Tony Sanchez talks about his love for reading books written by some of the greatest football coaches ever.

Gauging from the bookcase in his office, he’s been mentored by some of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport. Books by Lou Holtz, Jimmy Johnson and Bear Bryant – to name a few – or quotes and anecdotes he shared with me, the ones that resonated and stuck with him. Sanchez is deeper than some might think, or see when he’s firing up and down the sidelines, screaming at someone. It doesn’t matter the score, Sanchez is a fiery guy. He summarized that to me in a post-game interview after beating Centennial two weeks ago, saying he is a perfectionist.

And if something goes wrong on the field, and you see him going off on a player or assistant coach, he’s probably not half as mad at them as he is himself. He’s the type of guy who takes things personal. And if a cog in the engine of his vehicle breaks down, he’s taking the blame. He may be yelling at the car he’s driving, but he knows it’s up to him to give it a tune up.

“Not everyone has first-hand knowledge of how we do things around here. The kids get out of school … they’re in film session from 2:30 ‘til 3, from 3 ‘til 5 something they’re on the football field, then they go right into the weight room and that’s a process that continues to go,” he said. “I don’t think anything is misconstrued (about us), but I wonder if everyone has the first-hand knowledge of the amount of time that our kids put in, and the time the coaches put in. It’s hard to be successful for this long amount of time, and our kids have done a good job of just buying into the work ethic it takes to be the best.”

Sanchez said the Gaels’ 17 consecutive days off during the summer is the longest break they get. They start hitting weights their first day back in January, after Winter break, and continue for eight months leading into the season. He’s quick to point out that many of the programs in the valley do the same thing, and he’s not taking anything away from the Libertys, Palo Verdes, Arbor Views, so on and so forth.

But make no bones about it, Bishop Gorman does not boast a program chock full of talent that show up, put their pads on and dominate by accident. There’s work involved in sculpting the nation’s No. 1 program.

“When you watch film, you should see and feel energy, you should see execution, you should see crispness,” Sanchez said. “And I think if you watch us on film, we don’t look sloppy. We don’t jump offside, we don’t do a lot of silly things. Do we make mistakes? Yeah. And that’s what we do, we correct those things and we move on.”

Notice the word “WE.” Again, Sanchez takes everything personal, and is a guy who knows it starts at the top. It’s his responsibility to make sure the Gaels are firing on all pistons and remained a well-oiled machine.

Which is probably why they were practicing this morning, while many of you were trying to figure out the difference between sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie.


Away from the field, away from the game of football, Sanchez is a loving husband and doting father who is like any of us away from their job. He tries not to bring his job home, and is appreciative and thankful for his wife, who shelved her career with a major pharmaceutical company so he could fulfill his dream of building Gorman into a national power. His kids are his life. You can see it when he speaks of them.

You can see a twinkle in his eyes when he speaks about Bishop Gorman football, but you can see the apples in his eyes when he speaks about his children.

“I love spending time with my kids,” he said. “I’ve got a wonderful daughter, Alyssa, and watching her grow into this incredible young woman… I just love when I’m walking through the door and she’s just sitting in her room reading a novel, it’s like ‘wow, thank God my kids are smarter than me.’

“My son Jason, just being around him and watching him grow and develop different interests and different hobbies and loves, things like that, it’s just so fun being around him. Just praying with my kids before they go to bed at night, that means a lot. And my wife is wonderful. She’s sacrificed a lot. She gave up a career … she stays home with the kids now and it’s been a great thing.”

Sanchez said he isn’t worried about the criticism and rumors that swirl around the Gaels’ athletic program, and can’t be concerned what he, his family, his coaches or his family hears, because he’s too busy thinking positive every time he wakes up.

“I don’t think about it at all,” he said. “There are so many people that think we’re doing a great job. There are so many people who show up in the stands and who are cheering our kids on. We’ve got parents out there feeding our kids (after practice). I’ve got kids busting their tail to try to create opportunity later in life, just to keep this program going, to compete at a high level. I’ve got no time and energy for anything that’s not positive. We’re about moving forward, we’re about focusing on the things we can control. And what can we control: our attitude and our effort every single day.

“A lot of things in life you don’t control, but when you wake up in the morning, what’s your attitude for the day? Is it good or bad? What kind of effort are you gonna give? Those are the things I control. There’s a lot of things out there, we can bring that up, but I don’t know, I don’t worry about it. I don’t read that stuff.”


In the end, Sanchez said he’s taken each coaching position with the same mentality based off a quote he was given by friend and coach Tony Samuel, and lived by that mantra ever since.


After singing to the fans, and a post-game speech from Sanchez, the Gaels end each game is ended with a prayer.

“‘Take every job like it’s your last and you won’t screw it up’ was the greatest advice I ever received,” Sanchez said. “I’ve always felt if you treat people right, if you do the right thing and if you work hard, you don’t make excuses and you stand for something, there’s always going to be possibility and opportunity out there for ya.”

And from what I can tell, he’s not blowing smoke. I gave Sanchez a chance to fire back at his critics. Offered up a forum to discuss the public’s accusations. But not a negative word to say. He credits his coaches and his players, saying they’re the reason the Gaels are successful. He loves his job, he loves his staff and he loves the game of football. He loves Bishop Gorman High School.

“I am not here because I am some great guru, I’m here because I’m smart enough to hire smart people, to surround myself with positive people, to listen and to learn and continue growing. Those things are a must if you’re going to sustain success,” Sanchez said. “If every young man had an opportunity to play football, to be on a team and to be accountable, to create a work ethic in a year-round process, to understand what it’s like to be great in certain moments … the amount of care and love you develop for your teammates, the physicality of it all … the grind and the sweat and the hurt of football, that will serve you well the rest of your days in every single thing you do. I wish everybody in the country, at 3 o’clock after school, walked on to a football field and went to practice for two hours a day, what a great country we would have. And we still do – it would just be even tougher.”

Perhaps, maybe, as tough as the No. 1 ranked Bishop Gorman Gaels, and the man driving the vehicle – coach Tony Sanchez.


Arbor View’s Haley Vicente (12) overcame two ACL tears in both knees to shine for the Aggies in her senior season.

By W.G. Ramirez

“We wanted it for her, but she wanted it for everybody else.”

Those were the sentiments of Arbor View coach Jay Howard after his Aggies won their third straight girls soccer state championship Saturday, with a 6-0 win over Coronado. A valiant team effort, after a dominating run through the postseason, but for one player it was a title that was long overdue, and that easily wrapped up what should be considered the comeback story of the year.

Howard was referring to senior Haley Vicente, a dynamo forward with cat-like quickness and shocking agility considering what she’s overcome.

Put it this way, if this were a story about a women’s national team, or some NCAA squad that had a feel-good ending, we’d see it on ESPN with veteran reporter Tom Rinaldi narrating it with that slow, sappy music playing in the background. You know, the ones that have even the biggest and strongest of men reaching for tissue paper to dry their eyes, because it’s too touching not to tear up about?

See, while Vicente has been a part of the varsity program her entire high-school career, she only played for the Aggies during her freshman and senior seasons.

In between, she watched on crutches, with torn anterior cruciate ligaments. That’s not a typo; that’s plural.

After tearing her right ACL her sophomore campaign, and then being cleared to play during the offseason, she tore her left ACL two months into her club season. It takes quite an athlete to overcome one torn ACL, so you can imagine how big a deal it is to see someone recover from two, and then lead a team to a championship title. It’s even more special when all that person wants to do is deflect praise, and shower her teammates with all the glory.

“We wanted this in our hearts, and I just did it for the team,” said Vicente, who capped her senior year with 11 goals and three assists in the postseason to lead the Aggies offensively. “I just wanted the team to win. I’ve really just tried my hardest and I’ve tried to do everything for the team as a team player.”


Haley Vicente scored 11 goals and had 3 assists in the postseason to lead Arbor View offensively.

Vicente, who recorded three hat tricks during the playoffs, opened the scoring in Saturday’s state championship by giving Arbor a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute of the first half. The goal got the motivation flowing, and sparked her teammates to feed off that momentum, including her younger sister, Sierra, who promptly gave the Aggies a 2-0 lead with their second goal of the game, in the 25th minute of the first half.

“It was so amazing, it was so cool, I love playing with her and it’s really been an honor to play with her,” Haley Vicente said about seeing her freshman sister score in the title game.

It’s been a long ascension back to the field for Vicente, and both her mother and father – Margie and Gary – say they’re personally inspired by their daughter’s indomitable spirit, and drive to return to the field for the Aggies.

“To have two major setbacks like that was really, really hard for her,” Margie Vicente said. “The second one she came out more determined and she was not going to let anything stop her. Her senior year, she said ‘I’ve got to give it my all’ so she’s been giving everything she has and she’s leaving it all on the field.”


Arbor View sisters Sierra and Haley Vicente pose with the state championship trophy. Each scored a goal in the title game.

Gary Vicente said his eldest daughter, who is verbally committed to Cal State Bakersfield, provides inspiration to him daily after overcoming her injuries and performing the way she has during her final high school season.

“Her work ethic, what she’s accomplished is absolutely incredible to me,” he said. “She is a huge role model for her sister and other girls to follow, a total team player. She’s an amazing girl and an amazing soccer player.”

That’s not news to her club coach, Robert Andrade, who has coached Vicente since she was 6 years old. Andrade, who heads the ECNL Las Vegas Premier team, said what’s always impressed him has been Vicente’s work ethic off the field. Whether it was rehabilitation, personal training, going to the gym and then following one of those by showing up at practice, he says he never saw her break down to the point she wanted to give in. On the contrary, every obstacle provided motivation.

“The work rate that she put in, to come back, because of the way she loves this game … to me there’s few and far between girls that have the whole package like Haley,” Andrade said. “I can’t say enough about her personality. I’ve never seen a kid work as hard as she did in the gym three, four times a week, just putting in every ounce of effort that she had.”

And it finally paid off. After watching the Aggies win the state title the past two years, she was able to celebrate with her teammates thanks to the effort she put in while participating and contributing in the games.

“The whole time she was always fully supportive and never was down, even when we won state the last two years, she was in it with us,” senior Jessica Longhurst said. “She’s such a big team person, she’s not selfish at all, and that’s why I think she deserves this. This year she wanted it ‘cause she had never experienced a state championship and we had, so this year’s title was hers to take.”

Said Gary Vicente: “Her goal from the beginning of this season was to win at all costs. The scoring doesn’t make a difference to her. I ask her how many goals or assists she has, and she says she doesn’t know or care – she just wants to win. Her focus has been on this team from the beginning. She wanted everyone on the team to do well and she just wanted to be a part of the whole experience with that team.”

She certainly got that experience, feel-good story and all.

And even if ESPN and Rinaldi weren’t there to narrate her tale and tell their viewers about her, there were plenty of tears at Heritage Park for what is easily the comeback story of the year.

University of Washington women's soccer team plays Oregon State University

Former Arbor View standout McKenzie Karas is now a junior, starting for the University of Washington.

By W.G. Ramirez

Washington women’s soccer coach Lesle Gallimore remembers recruiting McKenzie Karas, the standout soccer player who starred at Arbor View and was named Nevada’s Gatorade Player of the Year her sophomore season.

In fact, she remembers her when she was a goalkeeper for her 14-and-under club team, not to mention when she filled in as a placekicker for Arbor View’s football team, which needed someone with a strong leg who could drive the ball.

Karas was quite the diverse athlete leading up to her college career.

But more than anything, Gallimore knows her as a “funny, outgoing, loose kind of kid you want on your team.”

“She makes the atmosphere she’s around that much better,” Gallimore said Tuesday during a phone interview from Seattle.

Gallimore and the Huskies are hoping the lovable junior defender affectionately known as “Jammer” will help make the environment a winning one, when Washington hosts Rider in the opening round of the NCAA Women’s College Cup, Friday night at 7 p.m.

For college soccer enthusiasts, call it November Madness.

And Karas has found a productive role that helped the Huskies earn the No. 4 seed in their region this year.

“Over the last month and a half, two months, she’s shown us what a great college player she can be and has worked her way into a starting role,” Gallimore said. “We’re excited about her progress and she is finally seeing and feeling her progress. She’s been resilient, worked hard and earning significant time now.”

University of Washington women's soccer team plays Oregon State University

Washington defender McKenzie Karas was named 2010 Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year.

It hasn’t been easy, though, as Karas overcame a torn ACL and nagging injuries since her senior year at Arbor View. Just days before signing her national letter-of-intent, she went down in a game and was finished for the season. Gallimore said she never flinched, and never even though about reneging on Karas’ scholarship offer. One, because she knows the type of individual she was dealing with, and two, because she has a conscious.

“I have to sleep with myself at night,” Gallimore said. “At the end of the day, it’s an injury. We recruited her hard and we stuck by her. The timing … there was just no way we were going to flip flop on our offer. That’s not the way we operate.”

In exchange for that type of loyalty, Karas worked her way back on to the field, battling tougher, better and more experienced players in front of her the past two years and eventually proving herself and not only earning the respect of her coaches, but her teammates as well.

University of Washington women's soccer team plays Oregon State University

McKenzie Karas will help lead Washington in the opening round of the 2014 Women’s College Cup, at home vs. Rider. The game can be seen online, beginning Friday at 7 p.m.


Karas said the transition from high school to college was already going to be difficult, but acclimating with a torn ACL didn’t help.

“The first year was tough because with the injury, I couldn’t prove to them what I could do on the field,” Karas said. “Being comfortable and being myself on the field is really tough in college, it’s a whole different ball game. Being able to be a voice on the field, without people knowing who I was, I was timid and tense my freshman year. But you have to come in and make a whole new name for yourself. Nobody cares you’re the Gatorade Player of the Year. You have to work for that spot on the field in college, nothing is guaranteed.

“Now I feel really comfortable with my team. I’ve grown not only as a woman, but as a soccer player at this level. My mindset has been at getting better every day. The transition was hard, but it being challenging, has made me the player I am today.”

Gallimore said ‘that player’ is someone she can put on the field and count on being extremely formidable, one that gives her goalkeeper confidence while she’s prowling in front of opponents.

“You can’t have a great team without great training kids, and Jammer fits right in there with that,” Gallimore said. “She’s always been a great and enthusiastic person both on and off the field. There’s just something about her personality that stands out and makes her a winner.”

NOTE: Karas scored the lone goal in Washington’s win over Rider on Friday, leading the Huskies to the second round of the Women’s College Cup. UW plays Missouri next, as the Tigers knocked off Kansas 3-1 in the first round.