Friday night’s showdown between top-ranked St. John Bosco (California) and #2 Bishop Gorman (Nevada) doesn’t need much hype. Both teams are loaded with talent and both teams know how to win big games.
Bosco is off to a 2-0 start this season after back-to-back 34-0 wins over two very good teams. The Braves opened the season on the road on national television two weeks ago with a shutout win over Cincinnati-power St. Xavier and last week they shutdown La Mirada (California), the 2015 CIF Division III-AA state champs.
Bishop Gorman, which is ranked #1 in our latest media compilation poll, also has two impressive wins on its resume in 2016, including a huge 44-14 win over Cedar Hill in Texas on national television in its season opener. Cedar Hill entered that game ranked #3 in the High School Football America Top 25. Last week, the Gaels knocked-off Cocoa (Florida), which came into the contest ranked #41 in the nation after a 26-23 win over then #25 Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Florida).
When you start breaking this one down, you see a lot of similarities in stats and talent that will be playing at the next level. One area that will get a lot of the spotlight at Long Beach Veterans Memorial Stadium Friday night will be the quarterback position where Bishop Gorman is led by Ohio State-recruit Tate Martell, who has been leading the Gaels since his freshman year, and Bosco QB Re-Al Mitchell, who will be starting just his third game as the leader of the Braves high-powered offense.
Martell has completed 53-percent of his passes for 408 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 243 yards and a score. The speedy Mitchell, who is a junior, is averaging 11.5 yards per carry, including an eye-popping 99-yard TD run against St. Xavier. In the passing department, Mitchell has completed 23-of-43 passes for 298 yards with three TDs and one interception.
St. John Bosco head coach Jason Negro says he’s pleased with Mitchell’s performance through two games. He knows how much pressure his young signal-caller is under, having to fill the shoes of two guys that made huge contributions at that position over the last four years — Quentin Davis last year and before that Josh Rosen, who after an incredible career three-year career as the Braves’ starting quarterback, became UCLA‘s starting QB as a true freshman. Davis is now at Fresno State.
“I have more passing touchdowns than rushing touchdowns right now, but the passing game needs to come together,” said Mitchell, who’s mom Sha-Ri Pendleton-Mitchell, was known as the character “Blaze” on the network television show American Gladiators in the 90’s.
“He’s gotta chill a bit,” said Negro, who’s program has won four straight Trinity League titles. “His passing game is going to come along, He’s done a great job. It’s a new receiving group and we haven’t given him the best protection.”
Negro added, “He understands he’s not Josh Rosen; he’s a lot different that Quentin. He’s got a totally different skill set than those guys and he needs to embrace the skill set that he has. He’s a great leader.”
Mitchell isn’t a stranger to big game pressure. Last year in the CIF Southern Section championship game against Corona Centennial, Mitchell had to enter the game after Davis went down with a shoulder injury with the Braves behind 34-10. Mitchell passed for two touchdowns and ran for another in a 62-52 shootout loss.
This will be the first time that these two have met since 2014 in Las Vegas when the then sophomore Martell led Gorman to a 34-31 victory. In that game, Bosco entered the contest ranked #1 by USA TODAY, while Gorman was #2. Bosco fell behind 20-3 at halftime in that one, and Negro says his team can’t fall behind Friday night.