Sollenberger matchup no longer a classic
Earlier this month, the Tribune did a list of 10 intriguing games to watch when the football season begins.
It probably didn’t go unnoticed that the Sollenberger Classic was not listed among them.
For the past four years, this has been one of the most hyped games of the year, especially the past two seasons when Hamlton and Chaparral faced off with Las Vegas-power Bishop Gorman.
The game always created a buzz to see how well the best team in Arizona fared against the best team from Nevada, and many times the Arizona team came out on top.
But that matchup isn’t happening this year.
Bishop Gorman is the unquestioned king of Nevada nowadays but was not invited to play. It was initially believed that a spat with Nevada’s Interscholastic Activities Association board was the sole reason why Palo Verde received the invitation this year while decisions are made about whether Bishop Gorman should be allowed to compete for Nevada state championships.
However, AIA Associate Executive Director Chuck Schmidt was quoted in the Las Vegas Sun on June 26 questioning Desert Vista’s ability to compete against Bishop Gorman, and it appeared both state associations were on board with the switch.
The critical quote: “Do you want to show up and play a game where there is really no chance of winning?’” Schmidt told the paper.
Schmidt has since claimed to be taken out of context, but there were various quotes from him in the story which underlined his concern with Desert Vista’s ability to compete against the Bishop Gorman powerhouse.
He is right in that Bishop Gorman would be the favorite to beat the Thunder.
But you know what? Desert Vista faced the same longshot odds in last year’s Division I championship game and came away with a 45-19 win over Hamilton.
As the Division I champion, the Thunder deserve the chance to face Nevada’s best.
Palo Verde’s program is very good (59-6 since 2007 with four of those losses coming against Bishop Gorman), but this game should pit the best big-school team from each state against one another, regardless of perceived imbalance.
Now the Sollenberger Classic lost its luster, and both the Nevada and Arizona athletic associations deserve blame for letting it happen.