CONCORD, Calif. – De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
coach Bob Ladouceur was called into the training room to look at the right foot of his star linebacker Blake Renaud
He scowled painfully as had everyone else still hanging around after the Spartans’ 28-14 home victory over
Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)
in a heavyweight battle of national powers before about 8,000 fans jammed into Owen Owens field and a national CBS College Sports network television audience.
The foot looked like it belonged to Frankenstein – it was grossly swollen and purple. Ladouceur had a hunch it was broken.
“How in the world did you push off,” Ladouceur asked after watching the Boise State-bound Renaud manage at least a dozen tackles.
Renaud just shrugged.
“Because he’s Superman,” a teammate shouted, drawing laughs from a half-dozen players who stuck around to gawk at the disfigured foot.
Bishop Gorman, NV vs De La Salle, CA - Highlights
In an adjacent medical room, De La Salle ‘s other prized recruit Dylan Wynn
, a high-motor 6-foot-2, 246-pound two-way lineman headed to Oregon State, was sprawled out in a chair, trying to recollect much of the second half. He hadn’t been hit in the head, but just spent by exhaustion.
He played every play except one in the second quarter when doctors bandaged up his bloodied left elbow.
“I’ve never been so tired in my life," Wynn said. "I was throwing up at halftime but didn't want to let down my teammates. I don't remember a lot of the second half because I was so exhausted."
Asked how he got through it and how the Spartans overcame a 14-7 deficit with three unanswered touchdowns in the second half and Dylan answered immediately.
“Brotherhood,” he said. “I did it for the guy lined up next to me and he did it for the guy lined up next to him.”
That would be vastly undersized center Josh Cabral
, who just happened to be the only other guy in the room. He is listed at 209 pounds but admitted that he’s closer to 190. Gorman's line, which averages upward of 280 pounds, is led by one of the nation's top juniors, 6-6, 282-pounder Ronnie Stanley.
“After tonight, I’m probably more like 182,” Cabral said. “That was one big physical team we just played. Those guys are real physical.”
Indeed it took everything the Spartans had – and a lot more – to pull this one out.
Don’t be fooled by the two-touchdown margin. This was a dead heat and for the majority of the night, Gorman (3-2), the defending and seven-time Nevada state champs, were in control thanks to a huge, physical and superb offensive front and the remarkable all-around skills of junior tailback
In fact, De La Salle, ranked 19th nationally in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 presented by the Army National Guard, didn’t have a single sustained drive until the start of the fourth quarter when it traveled 80 yards in 13 plays capped by a Bart Houston
to Anthony Williams
4-yard touchdown with 6:17 to play.
"It was a designed play, a one-step slant and Bart got it exactly where it was supposed to go," Williams said.
That broke a 14-14 tie and gave the Spartans (3-0) their first lead since late in the first quarter. Houston then added an insurance touchdown with a 2-yard TD sneak with 1:30 remaining.
“It was 21-0 the second half against those guys,” Ladouceur said. "You can't complain about that."
De La Salle scored its first two touchdowns on a 90-yard kickoff return to open the game by Antoine Pickett
and one-play 19-yard scoring drive after a Powell fumble midway through the third quarter.
Before that second touchdown, the Spartans had a scant 106 yards of offense and seven first downs.
“You can’t give the most renowned high school football team in America two touchdowns and expect to win,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “It turned out that was the difference.”
It was indeed, but De La Salle dug deep and found more in the tank down the stretch than the Gaels.
De La Salle’s smallish but quick offensive line and vaunted veer attack finally got rolling. Lucas Dunne
, who earlier scored on a 19-yard run, began finding seams and finished with a game-high 133 yards on 23 carries. He carried seven times for 47 yards on the go-ahead drive and five more times for 26 yards on the game-clinching march.
“We knew at halftime we had to come out and show what we could do,” Dunne said. “I knew I had to do it for my team.”
Said Wynn: "Down deep our line loves to run and we thrive on the run. We literally did the same exact play the entire second half: 12 veer, 14 dive and 38 power. That's all we did."
Said Ladouceur: "We stayed away from our four wideout sets the second half. We were patient and pounded the ball. It worked out."
Houston didn’t have big numbers (9 of 14, 98 yards, 30 yards rushing), but he came up big in the fourth quarter, including a 17-yard naked bootleg run on 3rd-and-7 that set up his 2-yard TD sneak.
The best part of the big run was that he called it himself after De La Salle had called timeout. Ladouceur, California’s winningest coach with six mythical national championships to his credit, actually called for a curl route but Houston gave his two cents.
“I said ‘that No. 8 (USC-bound defensive end Jalen Grimble
for Gorman) always comes crashing down and doesn’t even peak at me. Coach I can make the seven yards,’ “ Houston said. “He said, ‘then go make it.’ “
Said Ladouceur: “He’s the one out there. He knows what’s going on. It was a good call and he got it.”
The best or certainly most eye-popping player on the field was Powell, a Bay Area native from Marin County, who rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns, the second was a seen-to-be-believed 17-yarder where he somehow escaped three would-be tacklers before sprinting down the right side for the score.
It was very reminiscent of a short, strong, relentless and elusive back who starred for three years at De La Salle, Maurice Jones-Drew. Powell also added a 2-yard touchdown and a spectacular, leaping and diving interception of what looked to be a sure long De La Salle touchdown pass.
“Everything is for my team,” said Powell, a 5-10, 175-pound junior who scored 29 touchdowns last year and has 12 more this season. “Everybody practices so hard all week at practice so I’m more than willing to give it that extra push for my teammates.”
Said Williams, who also had a spectacular third-quarter interception: “(Powell) is very tough to bring down. He’s a great running back.”
Powell had a large contingent come out to the game from Marin County and the Novato area where he grew up. He moved to Las Vegas, he said, in the seventh grade.
His entourage was thrilled when Powell scored his third touchdown on a 26-yard run to start the fourth quarter. It was waved off, however, as Gorman was whistled for a motion penalty. Another penalty (delay) and incompletion led to a 52-yard field goal try by Colin Ditsworth, but it was well short.
“I was very hyped for the game because I wanted to show California that Las Vegas plays some good football,” Powell said. “Problem is we just couldn’t finish. We couldn’t put them away.”
After outgaining De La Salle 173-66 in the first half, Gorman managed just 95 yards in the second half for a total of 268. The Spartans gained 209 of their 275 yards after intermission.
"It's hard to describe what we did except that we dug deep down," Wynn said. "We got the to the point where we just beat them down and said 'go, go, go.' We were dying just like them but you play for the guy next to you because you don't want to let them down."
Sanchez said the Gaels didn't let him down in any way. In fact, the area he was most pleased was the team's "competitive maturity. We have 10 underclassmen starting including six on offense. Our defense was tough as nails, especially early. We created turnovers. We took away the veer for a large part of the game. We're doing all the right things. We'll come back and be better."
Ladouceur doesn't doubt that. The contract for the two teams is just for one year. He wasn't real anxious to see the Gaels any time soon.
"Whoever is going to deal with them this year or next year will have their hands full," he said. "Just like we did tonight." De La Salle 28, Bishop Gorman 14
Bishop Gorman 7 7 0 0 – 14
De La Salle 7 0 14 7 - 28 First quarter
DLS – Antoine Pickett 90 kickoff return (Preston Lyon kick), 11:48
BG – Shaquille Powell 2 run (Colin Ditsworth kick), 1:03Second quarter
BG – Powell 17 run (Ditsworth kick), 10:27Third quarter
DLS – Lucas Dunne 19 run (Lyon kick), 5:26Fourth quarter
DLS – Anthony Williams 4 pass from Bart Houston (Lyon kick), 6:17
DLS – Houston 2 run (Lyon kick), 1:30Team statistics
First downs: BG 13, DLS 14
Rushes/yards: BG 30/146, DLS 36/177
Passes: BG 5-12-1-122, DLS 9-14-1-98
Total yards: BG 268, DLS 276
Fumbles/lost: BG 2/2, DLS 1/1
Turnovers: BG 3, DLS 2Individual statisticsRushing
BG: Powell 19-112, Solomon 11-34, Williams 1-0. DLS: Dunne 23-133, Houston 10-30, Te’o 3-14. Passing
BG: Solomon 5-12-1-122. DLS: Houston 9-14-1-98. Receiving
BG: Smith 4-58, Zeger 1-64. DLS: Shapiro 4-47, Williams 3-34, Hutchings 1-10, Dunne 1-7.