Zachariah Branch, considered the nation’s top wide receiver, is back healthy for a Bishop Gorman team that already was plenty dangerous without him.
Branch, a Southern California commit who has been battling an undisclosed injury, caught two touchdown passes in Friday night’s 75-0 victory over visiting Foothill.
“He’s had a tough year,” Gorman coach Brent Browner said. “He’s toughed it out. He’s made sure that he’s stayed focused. He worked hard. … You could see he was back close to 100 percent. He hasn’t been there for a while. That was good to see.”
Gorman (9-1, 5-0 Desert League) has outscored its state competition by a combined 335-0, and Browner said he was especially impressed with his players’ selflessness against Foothill (3-7, 2-3). Because it was senior night, some of the backups got to start and receive extra playing time.
“That’s what makes this group special,” Browner said. “I know we can look at the scores and the shutouts and all that stuff, but … watching kids give up their time for other kids is not normal at all.”
The Gaels open defense of their Class 5A championship at home Thursday against Faith Lutheran (6-3, 1-3), the fourth seed from the Mountain League. Foothill (3-7, 2-3) is the fourth seed in the Desert League and will play at Mountain League No. 1 seed Liberty (6-3, 4-0).
■ Silverado 57, Desert Oasis 0 — At Desert Oasis, defending Class 4A champion Silverado clinched the Desert League title with another sterling performance.
The Skyhawks (9-0, 5-0) have a bye in the first round of the playoffs. They will host Thursday’s winner between Sierra Vista (6-4, 3-2 Sky League) and Durango (5-4, 2-2 Mountain League) on Nov. 4. Sierra Vista and Durango are each seeded third in their respective leagues.
Silverado has outscored its opponents 501-23, and the Skyhawks have not allowed an offensive score since Sierra Vista had a touchdown on Sept. 9.
“It was a good way to finish the regular season,” Silverado coach Andy Ostolaza said in a text message. “Now everyone is back to 0-0. We have to get back to work (Saturday).”
Desert Oasis (4-5, 3-2) is the third seed in the Desert League and will host Mountain League No. 4 seed Clark (4-6, 1-3) on Thursday.
■ Moapa Valley 19, Virgin Valley 6 — At Virgin Valley, Jayden Bunker intercepted three passes and returned two for touchdowns to lead the reigning Class 3A state champion.
Bunker returned interceptions 40 and 67 yards for TDs.
“Our defense was key tonight,” Moapa Valley coach Brent Lewis said. “I felt like we dominated play.”
Moapa Valley (10-0, 5-0) clinched the Desert League title with the victory in a winner-take-all matchup with Virgin Valley (7-2, 4-1).
The Pirates receive a bye until Nov. 4 when they will meet the winner of Thursday’s game between host Virgin Valley and Mountain League No. 3 seed Eldorado (5-4, 2-2).
■ Green Valley 34, Faith Lutheran 31 — At Faith Lutheran, Justyn Delzeit passed for 404 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Gators in a battle for the third seed in the Class 5A Mountain League.
By capturing that seed, Green Valley (3-6, 2-2) avoids Gorman in the first round of the playoffs. The Gators instead will play Desert League No. 2 seed Arbor View (8-1, 4-1) on Thursday.
■ Basic 21, Clark 14 — At Basic, the Wolves overcame six first-half turnovers to win and capture the second seed in the Class 4A Mountain League.
Basic (8-2, 3-1) will get a bye until Nov. 4 when it hosts Thursday’s Coronado-Sunrise Mountain winner. Coronado (7-2, 4-1) is the second seed in the Sky League, and Sunrise Mountain (4-6, 2-3) is the fourth seed in the Desert League.
■ SLAM Nevada 39, Eldorado 7 — At Desert Pines, SLAM Nevada captured the Mountain League in a game that had to be moved because of a water leak at Eldorado.
The Bulls (6-3, 4-0) receive a bye until Nov. 4 when they play the Virgin Valley-Eldorado winner. Eldorado (5-4, 2-2) is the third seed in the Mountain League.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at at email@example.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.