Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas’

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IFBB Men’s Physique Pro Mark Anthony, r., works with Gary Napierkowski at a recently held posing clinic at City Athletic Club, on West Sahara, attended by several competitors who will compete in Saturday’s Cutler Classic at the Palms Hotel.

By W.G. Ramirez

Said one critic last year, during the filmography for a Jay Cutler Desert Classic promotional spot, it’s like the “circus coming to town.”

Metaphorically speaking, I suppose.

But even I know the annual spectacle featuring international competitors and some of the top amateurs in the nation is far from clowns and elephants. Perhaps lions, as some might consider Cutler the King of the Jungle.

One thing is for sure, if there’s an internal buzz in the city, amongst a certain population of bodybuilding and fitness enthusiasts, it’s because the Classic, which takes place at the Palms throughout Saturday. Prejudging is at 10:30 a.m., while the Finals are at 6:30 p.m.

Two sessions, both pricey, but both worth the admission if you’re into this sort of thing. If not, you still might be surprised at what you’re seeing.

The prejudging gives judges their first look at competitors who strut and flex, showing what they’ve been sculpting the past 16 weeks. If not longer. And once you’re out there, and everyone can see each ripple and vein, most believe it comes down to posing.

“Stage presence is probably just as important as working on your physique,” IFBB Bikini Pro Jessica Chuckran said. “I see a lot of girls come into this, they’re athletic already, and their bodies look fantastic when they’re on stage. But they don’t know how to pose to the advantages of their physique. A lot of them have not walked in heels very much before because they’re always in tennis shoes working out. So when they get up on stage, that awkwardness shows. So you need to work just as much on your stage presence, walking and posing in (your) bikini.”

Chuckran joined IFBB Men’s Physique Pro Mark Anthony in a posing clinic Thursday night at the posh Southwest gym City Athletic Club, as the two covered last-minute details with some competitors entered in Saturday’s Classic, and a few who are still 6 or 12 weeks out from their next show.

Anthony, who was the first-ever Mr. Olympia Physique Champion, is four weeks out from his next competition, so he’s empathetic and supportive toward this weekend’s competitors, and tried to help some of them “keep calm and just pose,” by offering straight-forward advice during his hour session.

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IFBB Women’s Bikini Pro Jessica Chuckran, r., watches Ayla Brown perform her walkout routine, during a recently held posing clinic at City Athletic Club on West Sahara.

Be Sexy.

Don’t be in a rush to get back to your front.

Show them your back.

From Chuckran:

Exaggerate your moves.

Walk out with that side pose.

And, oh yeah, BE SEXY!!!

“I feel posing is the thing that’s going to give you your individuality, it’s going to give you that unique kind of look,” Anthony said. “It’ll separate you from the rest. A lot of guys prep for 16 weeks, 12 weeks – whatever it is – and they come in with this amazing physique, but just don’t know how to present it. It’s just a huge element – especially with men’s physique – because we don’t have the ability to raise our arms or hold poses. We’re doing quarter-turns with some swag.”

Fact is, the bikini and physique categories are just as tough as the bodybuilding categories, given the rigorous meal plan they have to follow, especially down the stretch. Whether it’s carb-cycling, peak week, depletion – whatever – the process is grueling, but one that must be trusted. Then after your preparation, you’re asked to strut on stage and show off your physique from different angles. Bodybuilders is about mass and aesthetics, while the physique competitors have to show proportion, aesthetics and make sure they’re not too big, in looking as if they should have competed in a bodybuilding category.

Anthony said confidence is one of the biggest qualities that will catch a judge’s eye, and if you’ve got it when your number is called, you can steal some votes along the way.

“I’ve beaten guys who were two, three percent sharper in the body because I was confident without being boastful or cocky,” Anthony said. “I just showed that I know who I am, I know my position on the stage, I know the strengths and weaknesses in my posing on my body, and everyone should be looking at me and I should be the champion.

“You must have confidence. Not only do judges see it, they feel it.”

Chuckran agreed, saying bikini competitors have a lot of work cut out for them, if they want to walk away with a trophy.

“From a bikini perspective, a lot of people give it slight hand and think all you have to do is ‘look sexy’ and don’t have to do any work,” Chuckran said. “As a bikini competitor, I can tell you that you have to train probably harder than some of the guys that I even know, just because you’re spending just as much time in your cardio, or more time perhaps, as you are in your actual lifting routine.”

Plus, as the competition gets closer, and your meal plan can be gut-wrenching, the lifting routines intensify while your cardio may increase.

The result is a body glamour models dream about having.

After all, muscles are the new sexy.

And they’ll be on full display at the Palms for another edition of the Cutler Classic. Cutler, a four-time Mr. Olympia, says the community support is outstanding and that he’s pleased with the turnout of competitors, because the quality is what the jam-packed crowd appreciates. This, along with other events bearing the name of certain bodybuilding icons, has grown thanks to Cutler’s ambassadorship toward the industry, traveling worldwide to promote his brand.

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wade and tarkanianBy W.G. Ramirez

This April will mark the 28th anniversary of my first published article after high school.

Less than a year after graduating from Clark High School, my exclusive interview with then-UNLV point guard Mark Wade was splashed across the front page of the Las Vegas Sentinel-Voice, the state’s only African-American newspaper.

That was 1987. Little did I know the next time we’d do another exclusive 1-on-1 interview, it would be under somber circumstances.

But sure enough, less than 30 seconds after texting my ol’ buddy Mark, he replied with one simple word: “Yes.”

The question: “Mark, you available for an interview about Tark?”

Mark Wade 2Just as he was UNLV’s loyal floor general who helped lead the Runnin’ Rebels into the 1987 Final Four, and was an extension of the coaching staff on the court, he was loyal to his former coach on Wednesday, roughly three hours after we were all saddened by the news that Jerry Tarkanian had joined his friend and former North Carolina coach Dean Smith in the afterlife.

Mark, understandably shaken, spoke about a number of things with me, talking about how much Tarkanian meant to not only him, but the program, university and city of Las Vegas. Much of what he said, I knew. The broad strokes, of course I knew. I’ve been here since 1972, and used to watch the Runnin’ Rebels play inside the Las Vegas Convention Center’s famed Rotunda, which resembled a spaceship.

From Sweet Lew Brown, Eddie Owens, Sudden Sam Smith, Robert Smith, Reggie Theus and that high-flying bunch from the 70s, to Wade’s crew that included Armen Gilliam, Freddie Banks, Eldridge Hudson and Gary Graham, I had seen them all. Yep, long before the 1990 National Championship – with Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony, Anderson Hunt and George Ackles – we were all bleeding Rebel Red.

Including Mark.

Which is why his phone began blowing up shortly after the 84-year-old legend died at Valley Hospital, just minutes from his home. So many people knew what Tarkanian meant to Mark, who might have been diminutive in size, but who had as big a heart as any other Runnin’ Rebel in the history of the program.

Which is why, to this day, he defends UNLV to the core.

“There was always this misperception that we were this undisciplined, crazy, helter-skelter uncontrollable basketball program,” Wade said. “But as chaotic as it looked, it was unbelievably disciplined basketball. To us, we had a plan and it was directed toward what we were supposed to do. Even on the championship team, they all had roles on the floor en route to winning the championship. Us, that 1987 Final Four team, we had a plan and we knew what we were doing and what we had to do to get as far as we did. We had a plan that was set forth in practice.”

And boy did the Runnin’ Rebels execute it.

They finished 37-2, averaged 92.5 points per game, allowed 75.5 points per contest and lost in the National Semifinal, 97-93, to eventual champion Indiana.

But it was the game before that, against Iowa in the West Regional Final that Mark wanted to talk about. It’s the one game he remembers absolutely everything about, and the one game he believes epitomized the life and soul of Tark the Shark.

“The eternal fight of telling one another we weren’t going to lose that game, that’s what I remember,” Wade said. “We were getting out butt whipped out there, I got my fourth foul and Gary (Graham) came in the game. And no matter how far down we got, we just always had the mentality it was us against the world and we were going to fight ’til the clock said zero.”

Just like Tarkanian. In real life.

“The Iowa game epitomized what Coach Tark was all about; it epitomized what college basketball was all about,” he said.

Wade_MarkWade remembers one intangible being the culprit allowing Iowa to open a 16-point halftime lead on the Runnin’ Rebels. That culprit, in a sense, was Tarkanian, who had Gilliam throwing the ball in each time Iowa scored.

“Our best finisher was taking the ball out of bounds, and that wasn’t working,” Wade said. “So at halftime, rather than him telling us what we were doing wrong, a couple players went to coach and we told him to switch Jarvis Basnight with Gilliam, putting the team’s best scorer into frontcourt, rather than the backcourt.

“And that is what essentially changed the flow of the game.”

UNLV outscored the Hawkeyes 42-23 in the second half and advanced to its second-ever Final Four.

“Coach and I never had any serious battles, what we had was a meeting of the minds on the basketball court,” Wade said. “We found a happy medium and that’s what made me enjoy being a point guard for that team.”

It was that kind of relationship that taught Wade to trust a coach, taught Tarkanian a lot more about the point guard on his team and displayed the type of coach who wasn’t afraid to learn from his players while teaching them how to win.

“He taught his players to fight through practice ’til they had nothing left, and in games, the model was to play ’til the game was over,” Wade said. “In life, his journey was the same as what we stood for on the basketball court. You fight until you have nothing left, to the very end.”

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Seven Las Vegas-based football players are on Southern Oregon’s football team, including Lantz Worthington (third from left). The Raiders play for the NAIA National Championship on Friday. PHOTO: Courtesy of Sports Information.

 

By W.G. Ramirez

If UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez (it’s okay to say that now, right?) needs proof it’s okay to recruit locally, and build a nucleus around Las Vegas talent, he should direct his attention to Ashland, Oregon – population 20,000. That’s an approximate number.

A more precise number is seven. How apropos, as Vegas’ winningest number on The Strip is the same number of Southern Nevada football players who attend Southern Oregon.

Why does this all matter? Because Friday at Noon pacific, the eighth-ranked Raiders will take on seventh-ranked Marian University (Ind.) for the NAIA Football Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Yep, while the Rebels are licking their wounds after another two-win season, seven Las Vegas products may be donning national championship rings at the collegiate level. Southern Oregon, which was No. 22 in the preseason poll, knocked off third-ranked Saint Xavier, 62-37, two weeks ago to get to the final game. And history is on the Raiders’ side, as the lower seed has won the last four championships and seven of the last eight.

Coach Craig Howard has a wealth of talent he can brag about, but said he has been pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed with how well his Las Vegas contingent has worked out for his team during its championship run.

“It really was an untapped recruiting area,” Howard said from Daytona Beach, during a phone interview on Tuesday. “These guys have been a joy to coach. And we’re going to continue to recruit Las Vegas, no matter what, as it’s been a huge benefit for us.”

Linebacker Isiah Carter (Canyon Springs), running back Lantz Worthington (Centennial) and defensive back A.J. Cooper (Canyon Springs) made the trip with the Raiders, while defensive back Ray Robinson (Las Vegas), defensive back RaeQuan Bascombe (Canyon Springs), offensive lineman Terry Dodd (Cheyenne) and running back Malik Davis(Desert Pines) have been an integral part of getting the team prepared throughout the season, during practices.

“These kids played together for many years and they stayed together to build a pipeline from Las Vegas,” Canyon Springs coach Hunkie Cooper said. “We have a pretty good group of kids there.”

Cooper, who starred at UNLV and went on to become one of the biggest stars in the history of the Arena Football League, said he’s confident Sanchez will begin his recruiting process in Southern Nevada, as he knows the coaches and players, and respects what many of his now-former high school colleagues do at their respective schools.

The trio who made the trip to Daytona Beach agreed wholeheartedly.

“I think that a lot of Las Vegas talent is overlooked by a lot of schools because we’re small, speedy guys,” Carter said. “Nobody is willing to look into it and recruit from it because most schools are looking for prototypical football players, size wise.”

(TOMORROW: Read Isiah Carter’s touching story on who he’s dedicated the season to)

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Former Canyon Springs standout Isiah Carter, who played in 11 of 14 games for Southern Oregon, finished fourth on the team with 75 tackles. PHOTO: Sports Information

Carter finished fourth on the team with 75 tackles, after playing in 11 of the team’s 14 games. He recorded 10.5 tackles for loss, which ranked third on the team, and his 52 yards-for-loss ranked second-most on the team.

“I think that having guys from Vegas, it would make the transition to college much better if they went to UNLV,” said Carter, who also recorded four sacks this season. “I know our Vegas guys up here now have made this team more dynamic and more diverse on offense and defense.”

Worthington, who was one of the best running backs out of the Sunset Region last year, said former UNLV coach Bobby Hauck sat down with him and told him he could walk-on and make the team, but that he would not be offered a scholarship, mainly because they had been used up for out-of-town recruits and there simply was no more money left.

“Honestly, I think it’ll help the program if he brings in locals,” said Worthington, who has seen limited time, but is the fastest player on the Raiders, according to Howard. “It’s the way Sanchez runs his program, I mean, Gorman was phenomenal and I feel college athletes need that kind of leader and role model as a coach. He’s the type of coach that college athletes would love to play for, and I feel it will make a big difference if he can keep kids home.

“Kids will feel more appreciative being recruited by UNLV, knowing they can stay home. UNLV’s recruiting should always start with Las Vegas football players.”

In six games, Worthington rushed for just 31 yards on five carries. Nevertheless, Howard wasn’t afraid to say he’s shocked to this day he has Worthington, given how talented he is, and that he’s looking forward to him playing a lead role next season.

“Lantz hasn’t gotten a lot of playing time, but he’s the fastest player on the team,” Howard said. “He will definitely be a full-time starter next year. I don’t know why he is at Southern Oregon, because he is a Division I player. But hey, he’s an impact player for us, so everyone else’s loss is our gain.”

A.J. Cooper said it’s come up often, as the season has progressed, whether or not the Vegas boys will be staying in Ashland, or if they’d like to return home to play for the Rebels and Sanchez, or elsewhere for that matter.

“We’ve decided we started here and we want to build here,” said Cooper, who is Hunkie’s son. “Even though I’m a redshirt, I came for the trip so I can experience the feeling of playing for a national championship and that means something to me, so I’m going to stay loyal to my team and my coaches. But, there are guys who would feel good playing for their hometown (in Las Vegas). There’s a sense of motivation to play in front of friends and family. It would feel good to play for your hometown.”

Howard said it’s been his first move, to recruit locally, as it’s created a solid fan base, including sponsorship money from business owners who support the local team. But after recruiting from Ashland and surrounding areas, he said he knows where one of his first moves will always be after this seeing the results from this season.

“I don’t know if we lucked out, but character-wise, these guys from Las Vegas have been great,” Howard said. “They’re just great examples for our program. The character of those kids and the work ethic of those kids makes me want to go out and recruit that area annually.”

Given his success with Southern Nevada preps, something tells me Sanchez will be doing the same.

(Friday’s NAIA National Championship will be televised on ESPNU)

 

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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.

THE START

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.”

THE RISE

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.

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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.

THE GRIND

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.

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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.

THE FAMILY MAN

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.”

THE JOB, THE SPORT

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.

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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.

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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.