Hockinson claims first state football championship

Hawks complete perfect season with 35-22 victory over Tumwater in Saturday’s Class 2A state championship game

TACOMA — The Hockinson Hawks believed all season.

Saturday, they made believers of everybody else.

The Hawks are the Class 2A state football champions, completing a perfect season for their first state title by beating perennial power Tumwater 35-22 in the Tacoma Dome.

“This day means everything to me. I told you we were going to go 14-0. I did mean it,” quarterback Canon Racanelli said. “This is huge for our community. Everyone is happy about this. Pretty great to bring this home for the first time.”

The 2017 Hockinson High School football team poses with the Class 2A state championship trophy Saturday after defeating Tumwater 35-22 in the championship game at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz
The 2017 Hockinson High School football team poses with the Class 2A state championship trophy Saturday after defeating Tumwater 35-22 in the championship game at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

Racanelli threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns, and the Hockinson defense made adjustments after a tough start to rule much of the rest of the contest.

“We worked so hard for this,” linebacker Colton Wheeler said. “We put in so many hours for this. We’ve earned this. We earned this championship.”

Defensive lineman Nathan Balderas was one of several Hawks who seemed to know where to be on almost every play in order to slow down Tumwater’s legendary rushing attack.

“We knew we were going to have to work all season to get this,’’ Balderas said. “But we also knew we had the guys who could do this. And we had the confidence to do it.”

Hockinson coach Rick Steele (center) and his players celebrate with their fans in attendance at the Tacoma Dome Saturday. The Hawks defeated Tumwater 35-22 to claim the Class 2A state high school football championship. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson coach Rick Steele (center) and his players celebrate with their fans in attendance at the Tacoma Dome Saturday. The Hawks defeated Tumwater 35-22 to claim the Class 2A state high school football championship. Photo by Mike Schultz

Trust the Hawks — that belief system they have really does matter.

The quarterback did predict 14-0 way back in August. His teammates followed his lead.

“We knew we were good. We knew we were talented. We knew we were deep,” said defensive back Aidan Mallory. “And we didn’t care what anybody else had to say.”

Then coach Rick Steele believed, too.

Interestingly, after the game, after the victory, the Hawks had a difficult time accepting what they had just accomplished.

“It’s just such a surreal feeling,” Steele said. “I still can’t believe it. I want to touch the darn trophy again. I don’t know where it is. I want to sit with it for a while.”

Hockinson senior Kordell Johnson gets his moment to hold the Class 2A state championship trophy after the Hawks’ 35-22 victory over Tumwater Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson senior Kordell Johnson gets his moment to hold the Class 2A state championship trophy after the Hawks’ 35-22 victory over Tumwater Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

“I can’t believe this. We’re state champions,” linebacker Tony Richardson said. “It feels great. Not too many people get to experience this.”

Sawyer Racanelli caught 12 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a 48-yard touchdown run to give the Hawks a 28-16 lead with 2:58 left in the game.

“We had a lot of guys step up huge against a great Tumwater team,” Sawyer Racanelli said. “We knew our playmakers had to make plays. It’s just fantastic to play on a great stage and have one of my best games. We’re state champions. Can’t get any better than this.”

The Hawks finished their time on the field with one more chant in the post-game huddle: “Why not us?”

That was a rallying cry all year. Nobody outside of Clark County really knew how good the Hawks were, so no one around the state gave the Hawks much of a chance to win it all.

The team had faith. Even going up against mighty Tumwater.

Hockinson coach Rick Steele (left) gives senior Ryan Sleasman (68) a well-deserved pat after the Hawks claimed the Class 2A state high school football championship with a win over Tumwater Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson coach Rick Steele (left) gives senior Ryan Sleasman (68) a well-deserved pat after the Hawks claimed the Class 2A state high school football championship with a win over Tumwater Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

Hockinson kept Tumwater from winning its sixth state title in program history. The Thunderbirds also have now played in four of the past six championship games.

Very early on, it was Tumwater looking to be on the way to another title. The Thunderbirds led 10-0 before the Hockinson offense got on the field. Tumwater scored on its first drive — a 10-yard TD run by Zane Murphy —  then recovered a Hockinson fumble on the ensuing kickoff. That led to a 44-yard field goal by Nathan Seaman for a quick 10 points.

From there, though, it was pretty much all Hawks.

A Racanelli-to-Racanelli TD pass made it 10-7 early in the second quarter. Hockinson took the lead for good with eight seconds left in the first half on a 17-yard swing pass from Canon Racanelli to Bailey Jones.

“He’s a stud,” Canon Racanelli said of Jones. “He really came up big when we needed him the most.”

That touchdown made life a bit easier at halftime.

“It was a huge momentum boost. Everyone’s spirits were up,” Racanelli said.

Hockinson quarterback Canon Racanelli (12) rushes for some of his 65 yards Saturday in the Class 2A state football championship game with Tumwater. Racanelli also had 316 yards passing and three touchdowns to lead the Hawks to the state championship. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson quarterback Canon Racanelli (12) rushes for some of his 65 yards Saturday in the Class 2A state football championship game with Tumwater. Racanelli also had 316 yards passing and three touchdowns to lead the Hawks to the state championship. Photo by Mike Schultz

There was no scoring in the third quarter, with Hockinson’s defense holding Tumwater to 16 yards of offense on two possessions.

The Hawks got some breathing room on an 11-yard TD pass from Racanelli to Racanelli early in the fourth quarter. Canon was 7 for 7 for 63 yards on the drive, giving Hockinson a 21-10 lead.

“We knew if we got up on them … they’ve got a sloooooow offense,” Canon Racanelli said.

Sure enough, the Thunderbirds took nearly six minutes off the clock on their next drive. Tumwater scored on a Jakob Holbrook short TD run to make it 21-16 with 4:52 left to play.

That did not matter to the Hawks, who went 90 yards on five plays on its next possession to push the lead to 12 when Sawyer Racanelli broke free on a reverse play for a 48-yard touchdown.

Less than a minute later, the Hawks were in the end zone again on a 45-yard interception return by Mallory.

Tumwater got the final points of the game, a touchdown with 1:27 to play.

The Hawks recovered the onside kick, then kneeled three times in Victory Formation.

Believe it Hockinson. Your Hawks are perfect.


HOCKINSON 35, TUMWATER 22

Hockinson  0  14  0  21 — 35

Tumwater 10  0  0  12 — 22

First quarter

Tumwater — Zane Murphy, 10-yard run. (Nathan Seaman kick)

Tumwater — Seaman, 44-yard field goal.

Second quarter

Hockinson — Sawyer Racanelli, 3-yard pass from Canon Racanelli. (Nick Charles kick)

Hockinson — Bailey Jones, 17-yard pass from Canon Racanelli. (Charles kick)

Fourth quarter

Hockinson — Sawyer Racanelli, 11-yard pass from Canon Racanelli. (Charles kick)

Tumwater — Jakob Holbrook, 3-yard run. (Pass failed)

Hockinson — Sawyer Racanelli, 48-yard run. (Charles kick)

Hockinson — Aidan Mallory, 45-yard interception return. (Charles kick)

Tumwater — Holbrook, 6-yard run. (Run failed)

Statistics

Rushing: Hockinson: Canon Racanelli 16-65, Sawyer Racanelli 1-48, Colton Wheeler 3-11. Tumwater: Dylan Paine 22-105, Zane Murphy 11-79, Jakob Holbrook 10-69, Raushaun Tate 2-11, Conner Clark 2-4.

Passing: Hockinson: Canon Racanelli 27-45-1-316. Tumwater: Elias Polito 5-11-0-36.

Receiving: Hockinson: Sawyer Racanelli 12-135, Jake Beslanowitch 4-48, Peyton Brammer 7-78, Bailey Jones 2-14, Levi Crum 1-5, Matt Henry 1-2. Tumwater: Jakob Holbrook 2-48, Austin Faught 1-1, Spencer Monahan 1-(-3), Dylan Paine 1-(-10).

 

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About The Author

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Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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