In the last three years, you knew the Bishop Gorman Gaels would end the season facing either Liberty or Reed for the state title.
Going for their fifth straight state championship with over the top facilities, the Gaels looked a notch below the last the team that won the last four titles lacking a primary ball carrier or explosive wide receivers but former Silverado transfer Randall Cunningham proved be the force to keep the team on track.
Facing the Reed Raiders in very windy conditions, there was no chance of slowing down the speedy Cunningham as he split the Raiders defense for touchdowns runs of 11, 12, 22 and 28 as he rushed for 213 yards of the day. It wasn't just his legs, he was able to efficiently split the wind as well completing over 80% of his passes as he added another touchdown through the air as well.
For Reed, they came out building immediate momentum in the contest as quarterback Chris Denn came out firing with a 54-yard toss the star Trae Carter-Wells before hitting him again from 8-yards out for a touchdown but from there it was all Gaels.
Cunningham scored twice in the first quarter before a short run by Daniel Stewart closed out the first half with the Gaels up 21-7.
Cunningham ripped off a big touchdown run five minutes into the third quarter followed by a Stewart interception return 40 seconds later with Riley Hoff hauling in Cunnningham's lone touchdown pass less than a minute after that as the Gaels quickly added 20 more points to take a commanding 41-7 lead.
Denn would add another touchdown pass at the end of the quarter but another Cunningham sprint would ice the contest as the Gaels rolled to a 48-14 win to earn their 5th straight Nevada state championship.
For the Gaels, this was a transition year with heavy losses taking a toll on the team's offensive production as the lack of explosive playmakers was very apparent.
Cunningham accounted for 3197-yards and 30-touchdown but in a 16-game season, neither of the Gaels primary backs topped 1000-yards on the season as the average yards per carry also took a huge dip.
The Gaels also saw their receivers struggle to get open consistently as well with the senior heavy group had few explosive plays this season. No Gaels wide receiver topped 400-yards receiving or scored more than twice.
The team will be sparked by the return of dynamic tight end Alize Jones but with Danny Hong expected to take over at quarterback, the Gaels will be more dependent on the teams skill player to create in the openfield.
Defensively, the Gaels are as physically tough as anyone but there are fewer high quality college football prospects featured on that side of the ball. Seniors like Nick Gates, Zack Singer, Armand Perryand Chris Lalli are huge losses that will be extremely tough to replace.
An offensive machine in the North, there is a reason the Raiders have become the team to beat annually and next year's team could be one of the the best they have fielded.
Quarterback Jackson Gilmore is more than set to take the reins as an explosive playmaker from the quarterback position with an accurate arm. He didn't completely separate himself from Chis Denn to open the season but he can surpass his production despite the huge numbers.
Running back Jordan DeLeon and receiver Carter-Wells saw monstrous production as seniors but sophomoreJorden Carter and Grayson Young should be able to fill their shoes next season.
Defensively, the Raiders were very youth heavy this season with run stuffing defensive tackle Alden Giang returning to lead the way.
With Jordyn Rather a very capable player at linebacker, the Raiders shouldn't skip a beat in the North.