Hockinson Notebook: Richardson’s ‘miracle’ made for one key play

Hawks’ standout defender made a critical play with his hustle

TACOMA — Usually, there are too many plays in a championship game to call any one play “The play of the day.’’

That was the case Saturday in the Tacoma Dome.

Hockinson got memorable performances from just about every player on the field at one time or another in its 35-22 victory over Tumwater in the Class 2A state title game.

Tony Richardson will always remember his gem, though. His teammates and his fans will recall it, too, when they look back on this perfect season.

Tumwater was leading 10-7 in the second quarter when Zane Murphy got free for a long run.

Richardson got on his horse, so to speak, and tracked down Murphy. At one point, Richardson was five yards behind Murphy, but Richardson did not quit, knocking the ball carrier out of bounds after a 53-yard gain.

“I just knew somebody had to go get him,” Richardson said. “At first, I didn’t think I was going to get him. Miracles happen.”

That drive would stall, leaving the score 10-7. Without Richardson, it would have been 17-7.

Hockinson ended up taking a 14-10 lead at the half, and the Hawks were on their way.

Hockinson quarterback Canon Racanelli (12) is greeted by his father Josh Racanelli (left) Saturday in the final moments of the Hawks’ victory over Tumwater in the Class 2A state championship game at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson quarterback Canon Racanelli (12) is greeted by his father Josh Racanelli (left) Saturday in the final moments of the Hawks’ victory over Tumwater in the Class 2A state championship game at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

Racanelli record book

Hockinson quarterback Canon Racanelli finished his career with 9,970 yards passing, which is No. 7 all-time in Washington high school football. (We are trying to determine if the record books include his 50 yards of varsity passing as a freshman, which would move him to more than 10,000 yards.)

His 124 touchdown passes are tied for seventh.

He threw 57 touchdown passes this year, which is No. 6 on the list of season bests.

Wide receiver Sawyer Racanelli finished with 1,766 yards receiving and 27 touchdown receptions. Both are fourth for season bests in Washington.

(Records provided by David Maley and updated by Ryland Spencer of Cascadiapreps.com)

Family love

Speaking of the Racanellis, their time on a high school football field together is over now.

What a way to go out, though.

“We told my grandpa before he passed away we were going to win a state championship,” Sawyer said. “We did it for him.”

The Hawks were still in celebration mode 20 minutes after the game when Sawyer, a sophomore, found himself thinking about the future.

“I’m excited we won a state championship but kind of sad that this is our last game together,” he said, referring to his brother, a senior.

“I’m totally speechless,” Canon would say a few minutes later.

Hockinson sophomore receiver Sawyer Racanelli (11) races to the end zone on one of his three touchdowns Saturday in the Class 2A state championship game at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson sophomore receiver Sawyer Racanelli (11) races to the end zone on one of his three touchdowns Saturday in the Class 2A state championship game at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

Slow start, strong finish

The Hockinson Hawks, as you know, won the state championship. But early in Saturday’s game, the Hawks did not look like they were champions-to-be.

Tumwater scored on its first possession of the game, then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, leading to a field goal. In less than four minutes, it was 10-0 Tumwater.

“We knew we could not get overwhelmed,” Sawyer Racanelli said. “We knew we had to stay calm and poised. We had confidence in all of our players, and the coaching staff wouldn’t let us hang our heads.”

“You just have to stay resilient,” Canon Racanelli added. “That’s what we did. Our defense played great. The O-line and D-line showed up, and that’s why we won it.”

Hockinson coach Rick Steele said it took a possession for the defense to figure out some things. And with Hockinson’s offense, there was no reason to panic.

“This just shows the grit of our kids,” Steele said. “I’m just so proud of them.”

Pick-Six

Aidan Mallory finished the Hockinson scoring with a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown.

It was a hitch play, and Mallory was all over it.

“I saw the quarterback’s eyes. I looked right at him,” Mallory said.

The receiver almost caught it. Almost. Mallory was just a bit quicker to the ball. Then it was a sprint to the end zone.

“I do track,” Mallory said. “I thought I was fast. I stuck with track skills.”

That did the trick. Touchdown Hockinson. A 35-16 lead with 2:12 to play. The play that sealed the deal.

Hockinson linemen Nathan Balderas (71) and Liam Heinl (78) share a hug as the clock winds down in the Hawks’ state championship victory over Tumwater Saturday in the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson linemen Nathan Balderas (71) and Sam Finklein (18) share a hug as the clock winds down in the Hawks’ state championship victory over Tumwater Saturday in the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

There is no tomorrow

Win or lose, this was it, the final game in the final week of the high school football season in Washington.

“We told the kids to leave it all on the field,” Steele said.

He added that if any of player were too tired to get off the field, someone would help him up. And he promised that the team would not leave any player behind, on the field, at the dome.

“It’s unbelievable to me that this is the last game,” linebacker Jonathan Domingos said. “It’s weird not having to wake up tomorrow for film, that’s for sure.”

Instead, the Hawks can wake up Sunday to take a look at the championship trophy. And again on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday …

Community counts

The Tacoma Dome was full of a lot of Clark County football fans. The Hockinson community fell in love with this team, then showed that love with a loud and proud performance from the stands.

“Obviously I’m excited for our football team. But I’m so excited for our whole community,” Steele said. “We had a ton of support from Clark County. It was just so freakin’ awesome.”

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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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