Posts Tagged ‘Alize Jones’

By W.G. Ramirez

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Bishop Gorman senior running back Russell Booze leads Southern Nevada with 797 yards. Photo: W.G. Ramirez

So here it is in a nutshell after Friday night’s demolition derby at Fertitta Field, the ‘apparent’ top two teams in the nation battled one another and Bishop Gorman simply outclassed St. John Bosco in a 34-31 victory.

On such a stage, in the spotlight, with a chance to officially stamp Bishop Gorman as a national power, the Gaels delivered.

I’ve watched five of their first six games, seeing three in person and two on television. They’ve shown improvement progressively, and last night, everything came together as the Gaels played like a well-oiled machine. And they couldn’t have asked for a better moment. The game was shifted from ESPNU to ESPN – the flagship station of the network – for the world to see.

And just like he’s done week after week, pounding and grinding, digging in as deep as it gets was an offensive stalwart the team has been able to depend on all season.

I’m not speaking about Alize Jones – who epitomizes the description I just gave you, and has never wavered from greatness this season – and I’m not talking about the explicit improvement by quarterback Tate Martell, whose decision-making was on point in Friday’s win.

I was referring to senior Russell Booze, who heading into Saturday night’s full slate of prep football, leads Southern Nevada with 797 yards on 96 attempts, with nine touchdowns. While averaging 8.3 yards per carry, he’s averaging 132.8 yards per game.

I won’t avoid saying that Mojave’s Ty Flanagan should pass Booze on Saturday, when the Rattlers face Faith Lutheran. But I also won’t deny this: now 60 percent through its season, Booze has arguably proved to be Gorman’s offensive MVP.

“He makes big plays, week in and week out,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “Booze is an absolute stud.”

Both Sanchez and Booze praised the offensive line first and foremost, each saying ‘if it weren’t for them,’ while also crediting running backs coach Craig Canfield for his impeccable knack for fine-tuning the backfield.

“That’s what it’s all about: if you can sustain drives and keep the clock running, especially against an explosive offense like (Bosco),” Sanchez said “You want to be able to run the ball methodically, you want to be able to take the time off the clock.”

They’re called blue-collar yards, and Booze has worn his hard hat all season, for each demolition.

While the 797-yard figure seems elementary for a top-notch running back from the valley, let me put it in better perspective, game-by-game: 65, 100, 118, 185, 170 and 159.

He’s improved each game, while literally becoming the go-to guy the entire time. Sure, Jones has been the ‘need a big play, go-to guy,’ because he can go over the middle and create a mismatch most times. But Booze, this kid runs, and runs, and runs.

As a youth, when his practice would end simultaneously with his older brother’s, he would race the running backs from the older team in 50-yard sprints, and win. Handedly. He’s always wanted to run. And he’s always been able to do it well. Whether he’s a scatback searching for a crevice in the line, or straight-on hitting the A-gap, Booze has been someone who can be coached, follows instruction and responds with the right results.

“We just run hard every practice, and we finish every run at every practice, Coach Canfield taught us that,” said Booze, whose nine touchdowns lead the team, as do his 54 points. His nine scores are 28 percent of the team’s total.

For his efforts, Booze has been the game’s leading rusher in five of Gorman’s first six games. He’s been every bit a leader to this team, as he is to his running back unit. He tends to be the calm in what can be a frenetic offense when the tempo runs high. Booze tames his unit’s occasional erratic nature.

But you wouldn’t realize he’s a leader when the headlines are generally focused on someone whose family relation has helped increase the national exposure. I mean, Snoop Dogg was part of the pregame B-roll and ended up in the booth at halftime, and UFC’s upper brass – Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White – was amidst the G Block.

Snoop’s son Cordell Broadus caught four passes for 64 yards, while Fertitta’s son, Nicco, swarmed the secondary and made his presence known on defense. SportsCenter featured Broadus and Jones, plus Bosco quarterback Josh Rosen, but missing was Booze.

After running out of the big-name players who always get publicized, Sportscenter fumbled terribly by ignoring Booze’s 80-yard TD run, most of it untouched, though his yardage did get embedded in a graphic.

Nonetheless, Booze has made a statement as a fixture in this offense.

After six games, 36 percent of his season tally came from the yards combined from each game’s longest run. What that means is 64 percent of his yards came on 92 rushes. When you take those 288 longest-run yards away from his season tally, it leaves you with 509 yards, or, 5.5 yards per those 92 other carries.

Short quick blasts, blue-collar yardage that sustains drives, just as Sanchez and Canfield prescribed.

And Booze is getting the job done, quietly.

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Can Bishop Gorman tight end Alize Jones seize the moment, against USA Today’s top-ranked St. John Bosco? Photo: Barry Wong

 

By W.G. Ramirez

Just watching something like the final home game of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter after an illustrious career, one might wonder what that must feel like.

I did. 

For a moment. Not even the whole thing. Just a moment. 

After a nice buildup to the game, I was somewhat happy for Baltimore Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, who spent a summer in Las Vegas with a competitive collegiate club, Team Vegas. When Jeter stroked a double in the first inning, and later scored to tie the game, for Gausman, it was a moment.

Oddly, after 2,745 career games, his final one in the Boogie Down even made No. 2 a bit jittery – er, Jetery (thank you Mitch Fulfer for that one) – on the one stage you would have expected him to own Thursday night. After all, it was his moment. And man oh man did he seize it.

Tonight, when Bishop Gorman steps on its own field, to face what USA Today claims to be the No. 1 team in the nation – St. John Bosco – both the Gaels and Braves will have their moment. They’ll play amid the lights, beneath Gorman’s mountainous skyline, in front of a nationally televised audience that was switched from ESPNU, to ESPN, the network’s flagship station…

Yeah, moment.

In the same manner Twitter blew up last night with Jeter tweets, the Gaels and Bosco have had their fair share of attention throughout social media, with So. Cal pundits and communicative support systems tweeting about the Braves, and Gorman dominating local headlines this week, in every form of media.

Gorman opened the season as USAT’s No. 1 team. But after close calls during a rugged non-conference schedule, it dropped before climbing back to No. 2. And on Max Preps, the Gaels have been in and around No. 5 on different polls posted there, and this week came in just behind Bosco, as the two were ranked 3rd and 4th. 

Based on USAT’s current poll, this conceivably is for a mythical national championship.

Fact is, as the Review Journal’s David Schoen pointed out this week, Bosco is an eerie carbon copy of Bishop Gorman, in that you have a private high school resurrected to the national spotlight after its program dipped below mediocrity.

Just as Gorman took its lumps to reach the point it has this season, Bosco has followed suit. Earlier this week on local radio, Gaels coach Tony Sanchez put it in perspective how far this program has come.

“The hardest thing about this year is we’ve been everybody’s biggest game,” he told the guys on Gridlock – Mitch Moss, Ed Graney and Seat Williams.  

Usually, the Gaels are getting pumped for their biggest game – which, in essence this is – but this year they’ve become the hunted. Can you imagine, a team ranked higher than the Gaels with this game circled? Last year at this time, Gorman couldn’t wait for then No. 1 Booker T. Washington High to arrive from Miami. Washington won 28-12, the Gaels regrouped and ran roughshod through the state to win their fifth-straight title and now we’re here.

Here, as in Gorman opened the season against five-straight highly regarded foes on a national level; it is 5-0. The Gaels have been involved in a couple of battles – having to come-from-behind, and play some defense when it mattered – but they’ve proven their worth. As opposed to what Public Enemy told us in 1988: “Don’t Believe The Hype!” You better believe the Gaels are all about their hype. 

Bosco is 3-0 after opening its campaign with just as many blowouts, outscoring St. Louis (Honolulu), Norwalk (CA) and Central Catholic (Portland) by a combined final of 153-31. That’s an average final of 51-10. These Braves are looking forward to the postseason much more than the ones in Atlanta. And the Braves are looking at this as a territorial conquest. Knowing that as powerful as Gorman has been, in their eyes when it comes to Nevada and California the Golden State far outweighs the Silver one. There’s a sense of pride here.

A lot at stake, just as there was last night in the Bronx. The Yankees, obviously, felt compelled to win for Jeter and the Orioles are still in search of a homefield edge in the postseason. And just like last night I think we’re in store for a battle in this mega-high school game.

I ran each team’s numbers through a spreadsheet program that I use during the NFL and college football seasons to see predicted outcomes for particular games. With Bosco and Gorman, I have eight games to work with, and after using filters and applying a specified formula based on performance, I did come up with four final scores.

Based on the season, Bosco would win this game, 31-28. After all, the Braves have annihilated their opponents, so after factoring in what Gorman’s defense has given up yards and point wise, it’s not surprising they should score 31. If we were to base this on Bosco’s three games this season, and only Gorman’s last three, the Braves win handedly, 37-23. Considering how the teams perform at home and on the road, I see Bosco winning, 30-23. 

Add those three finals, and you have a composite prediction of Bosco 32, Gorman 25. 

But as ESPN’s Lee Corso would say on Saturday’s Gameday: “Not so fast, my friend!” 

Maybe Bosco is the actual target in this game. Maybe Gorman still has visions of last year’s loss to Washington, at Fertitta Field, and wants to avenge that loss Friday night, knowing what’s at stake on a national level. We’ve seen some impressive things by plenty of local athletes in 2014, so why shouldn’t the Gaels live in their moment, with a pair of standout seniors playing the final home game of their high school careers shining bright to lead the way.

On defense, one of those signature Nicco Fertitta hits to stir up the mood, and possibly cause a turnover. And on offense, how do you not turn to all-American tight end Alize Jones? Jones puts up outstanding numbers, and even when I’ve seen the Gaels play terribly, Jones’ play never waivers. He’s been the go-to guy whenever Sanchez needs something.

So while I see Bosco giving Gorman everything it can handle, and potentially leading 31-28 late, I think it would be fitting to see Fertitta making his play with about three or four minutes left in the game, the Gaels taking over on offense and Jones taking over the game. Filter in some crafty running by Russell Booze and smart decision making by quarterback Tate Martell, and it sets up nicely for a game-winning TD by Jones.

And just like it was Jeter’s in the bottom of the 9th, when he stroked the walk-off single for the Yankees in a 5-4 win, it’s the Gaels’ turn to play for the moment. It’s Gorman’s moment to seize. 

I’ll side with the enchanted football tale: Bishop Gorman 35, St. John’s Bosco 31.