It’s been 706 days since Bishop Gorman woke up to the sweet smell of playoff football.
The weather away was tough but well worth the wait, as seed Gorman struggled when Faith Lutheran visited 51-0 on Thursday night in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs – the sixth consecutive shutout of the Gaels.
Gorman (9-1) will face No.3 Foothill, who beat No.2 Green Valley 27-20 on Thursday, in the Southern Region semifinals next week. The Gaels beat Foothill 59-0 last week.
Led by sophomore quarterback Micah Alejado, Gorman racked up 386 yards of attack. Alejado was 10-f0r-13 for 165 yards and a touchdown, and Zachariah Branch caught a 28-yard touchdown pass and ran for 11 yards in the first quarter.
“It was great to be back there. We’ve been preparing for this for so long now, it’s time to put on a show and do what we’re doing, ”Alejado said. “It was really special. We’ve been out for a long time and we’re just happy and grateful to be here. We put together a great game plan every week, and every week we come here and perform as a team. “
Faith Lutheran’s defense had no response to Gorman’s powerful offense, which averaged over 10 yards per game.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders (2-7) hit a brick wall and finished with 19 total yards of attack.
“These players are only doing good things in football,” said Gorman coach Brent Browner. “Defense, they are good and play with the greatest effort.”
Gaels junior lineman Aiden McComber sacked in the second quarter for a 9-yard loss, forcing Faith Lutheran to kick. On the attempt, junior linebacker Palaie Faoa crossed the line to block the punt, which was sent to the back of the end zone for safety.
“They have high motor kids who believe in what coaches do, and they love to play defense,” said Browner. “They’ve been waiting this long to finally not hit each other, and I think they’re enjoying it.”
The Gaels’ special teams also got into the action, as Jaylon Edmond returned from the punt for a 66-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Second-year running back Micah Kaapana scored twice and junior William Stallings pushed 2 yards into the end zone.
The victory was Browner’s first playoff victory as Gorman’s coach.
“Being here at Fertitta Field to play a playoff game is something these kids really needed,” Browner said. “The school needed it, and it’s just good to be back here. The kids are motivated and always do a good job of preparation – and great preparation on the part of the coaches as well. We’re just focused on the mission. The mission is still ahead of us, and it is only a step towards achieving that end goal. “