Five Things We Learned From The Sollenberger Classic

Trust Your Gut

AIA Executive Director Harold Slemmer told Ahwatukee Foothills News’ Jason Skoda that because Bishop Gorman and Mountain Pointe played each other in 2013 “…we thought we would change it up.” Slemmer added “Hindsight is 20/20 but it looks like (Mountain Pointe/Bishop Gorman) would have been a better game.” Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but in this case, not a single person ever made a compelling case, or held out any hope that either game would even be competitive. While Slemmer cites the victory Brophy had over Bishop Gorman back in 2008, it’s important to remember that schools aren’t a brand. Bishop and Brophy seniors were 12 years old when that game was played. Recent success needs to be taken into account. Last time, the Broncos were coming off a state championship the previous season, not a 5-7 record. The current Brophy team was shut out by Mountain Pointe in each of the last two seasons. Selecting Brophy because they beat Gorman six years ago makes as much sense as booking MC Hammer to headline this year’s Grammys.  

Mountain Pointe is Still #1

Several preseason top 10 lists bumped Mountain Pointe from the top spot because Chandler’s offense (on paper) seems like it could average triple digits. The people that matter know better though… and by “people that matter,” I mean the coaching staff of Hamilton and Chandler, who were both in attendance Saturday night to get an up-close look at the defending champions. The major concern was that Mountain Pointe would take a big step back on the offensive line and defensive secondary. They haven’t. They certainly need to develop some chemistry between QB Garvin Alston and the receivers, but it’s important to remember that last years’ QB Antonio Hinojosa was a much better QB in the state championship than he was in week 1. The 66-13 win over Reed should serve as a reminder to everyone that the #1 ranking still belongs to the Pride.

Paul Lucas is Underrated

How could someone with several division 1 offers possibly be underrated? Simple. This is a kid who has the field awareness of Nate Phillips, the speed of Markus Wheaton, and the personality of Brett Hundley. He’s an absolute star. His three TD performance against Reed that saw him score in three different ways isn’t the whole story- it’s really about the confusion he causes in the defense when he steps on the field. Lucas it probably only going to touch the ball 12-15 times a game, but he’s the focal point of the defense. Lucas makes life for Shivers, Alston, Cross and Leonard much easier. If any schools in the country in any conference not talking to Paul Lucas, then they’re making a mistake.

The Game Should Stay in Nevada

There’s talk of shifting the game away from Bishop Gorman, maybe using Cardinals Stadium or the NAU Skydome again, but I don’t think the game should leave Bishop Gorman’s home field. The Gaels have one of the nicest facilities west of Texas, and Arizona kids love playing there. Every single one I talked to commented on the turf, or the weight room, or the mountains, or the absurd video board that runs the length of the south end zone. Many of these players will get a chance to play in Cardinals stadium, but there aren’t any high school facilities like the one Bishop Gorman boasts. Plus, the weather is a tad more mild, and a ton less manic. Arizona just doesn’t have an outdoor facility that can get filled up and provide the same Friday night experience, so why try?

Change Things Up

Having two games is great. Having two games in two nights is just silly. The best move from here would be to make the Sollenberger Classic a single-day event with several Arizona vs Nevada games (resembling a boxing title match with an entertaining undercard). If the expense of bringing more than two Arizona teams to Las Vegas is too great, extend invite to more Las Vegas-area teams to open their season against each other as part of the event. Perhaps the two teams that lost in the NIAA semifinals could play each other before the Arizona/Nevada games are played. If the AIA/NIAA is worried about losing revenue from ticket sales, do what the California tournaments do and make everyone buy separate tickets for each game. Either way, having Bishop Gorman play on Friday eliminated hundreds of potential spectators as none of the players or students had any incentive to return and watch Mountain Pointe/Reed on Saturday.

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