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Hockinson alters offensive identity to repeat as state football champions

Hawks’ high-flying aerial attack takes a backseat to the run and the result is a second straight state title

TACOMA — Known for throwing touchdown pass after touchdown pass, the Hockinson Hawks went old school on Saturday to win the Class 2A state football championship.

Hockinson head coach Rick Steele (left) congratulates senior lineman Jacob Oldham (76) after the Hawks defeated Lynden 42-37 Saturday in the Class 2A state championship game at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson head coach Rick Steele (left) congratulates senior lineman Jacob Oldham (76) after the Hawks defeated Lynden 42-37 Saturday in the Class 2A state championship game at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Hawks went into a Wildcat formation. The Hawks looked at their opponents. They pretty much told them exactly what they were going to do play after play.

And the Lynden Lions had no answer.

“To be able to run this way was just absolutely insane,” Hockinson senior lineman Jacob Oldham said. “We decided to change some stuff up in our offense.”

The Hawks decided to challenge their offensive linemen to move the Lions, to make way for the ground game. In addition to Oldham, the offensive line group includes Nathan Balderas, Ki Haden, Takumi Veley, Garrett Kondel and Spencer Lindberg.

Hockinson lineman Nathan Balderas (71) celebrates Saturday after the Hawks’ posted their second consecutive Class 2A state football championship. Balderas and his fellow offensive lineman had key roles in Hockinson’s success running the football in the title game. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson lineman Nathan Balderas (71) celebrates Saturday after the Hawks’ posted their second consecutive Class 2A state football championship. Balderas and his fellow offensive lineman had key roles in Hockinson’s success running the football in the title game. Photo by Mike Schultz

The team with more than 50 touchdown passes in the first 12 games, ended up with just one in the championship game … and five rushing touchdowns.

“Just being able to block for Sawyer is a privilege. You’re never going to meet another kid like him,” Oldham said.

Sawyer Racanelli rushed for a championship-game record five touchdowns, all in the second half, all after Hockinson trailed by 17 points.

Yes, the pass-happy Hawks rallied from 17 down — with a dominating performance by the offensive line and the run game.

“Our big guys stepped it up, gave 155 percent, and we absolutely dominated,” Oldham said.

Racanelli finished with 85 yards on 15 carries. All of those carries came in the second half, too.

“Our offensive line did unbelievable,” Racanelli said.

Hockinson head coach Rick Steele (right) and assistant coach Josh Racanelli (left) celebrate a moment after the Hawks claimed their second straight Class 2A state high school football championship Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Racanelli’s son Sawyer was a member of both of the Hawks’ title teams and son Canon was the quarterback on last year’s championship team. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson head coach Rick Steele (right) and assistant coach Josh Racanelli (left) celebrate a moment after the Hawks claimed their second straight Class 2A state high school football championship Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Racanelli’s son Sawyer was a member of both of the Hawks’ title teams and son Canon was the quarterback on last year’s championship team. Photo by Mike Schultz

Hockinson quarterback Levi Crum added 70 yards on the ground. He watched the final drives, loving his view as Racanelli set up in the Wildcat.

“They dominated. That was crazy,” Crum said. “When they create huge holes for Sawyer, positive yards are coming.”

Racanelli in a different number

A Hockinson coach told the media before the game that Racanelli had changed jerseys for the championship game to honor a teammate.

Racanelli, normally No. 11, wore Peyton Brammer’s No. 9 in the finals. Brammer broke his foot in the quarterfinals and missed the last two games.

Hockinson’s Sawyer Racanelli (9) had a memorable game in Saturday’s Class 2A state championship victory. Racanelli, a receiver, threw a touchdown pass and then rushed for a record five touchdowns in the second half to leads the Hawks to a 42-37 win over Lynden at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson’s Sawyer Racanelli (9) had a memorable game in Saturday’s Class 2A state championship victory. Racanelli, a receiver, threw a touchdown pass and then rushed for a record five touchdowns in the second half to leads the Hawks to a 42-37 win over Lynden at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

Now that Hockinson has won, and now that Racanelli set a record for most rushing touchdowns in a 2A title game, the full truth can be revealed.

Coach Rick Steele confirmed that Racanelli forgot his jersey.

After scoring five touchdowns while wearing No. 9, maybe Racanelli and Brammer should trade jerseys for all of next season.

Championship quarterback

Levi Crum went undefeated in his first season as the team’s starting quarterback. He also threw for 51 touchdown passes.

And in the championship game, he caught a touchdown pass.

Hockinson quarterback Levi Crum (14) threw 51 touchdown passes this season but none in Satuday’s state championship game victory. Crum did, however, catch a touchdown pass thrown by receiver Sawyer Racanelli. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson quarterback Levi Crum (14) threw 51 touchdown passes this season but none in Satuday’s state championship game victory. Crum did, however, catch a touchdown pass thrown by receiver Sawyer Racanelli. Photo by Mike Schultz

Yes, that is a successful campaign.

“I feel like I did enough for my team, and that’s all I wanted to do,” Crum said. “Do enough for my team to get back here and win it. To have led them here feels great.”

Crum caught a touchdown pass on a trick play from Racanelli, who was playing receiver, for Hockinson’s first touchdown of the championship game.

“A little different stat line,” Crum said with a smile.

“The quarterback’s got hands. Not just a throwing arm,” lineman Nathan Balderas said.

Comeback

The Hawks were down 10 at halftime.

They were down 10 at halftime last week, too.

Hockinson linebacker Jonathan Domingos (42) knocks the ball loose from a Lynden ball carrier during Saturday’s Class 2A state high school football championship game at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson linebacker Jonathan Domingos (42) knocks the ball loose from a Lynden ball carrier during Saturday’s Class 2A state high school football championship game at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

No big deal, right?

“We stayed calm at the half,” Hockinson coach Rick Steele said. “We just told them, ‘Dig deep. Dig deep. There’s time. We have 24 minutes of football left. Don’t give up. Don’t give up.’”

Hockinson players Levi Crum (14), Wyatt Jones (5) and Jonathan Domingos (42) have front row positions in the Hawks’ postgame celebration and photo opportunities. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson players Levi Crum (14), Wyatt Jones (5) and Jonathan Domingos (42) have front row positions in the Hawks’ postgame celebration and photo opportunities. Photo by Mike Schultz

With the comeback completed, with the second consecutive state title secured, with 27 consecutive wins … Steele was just a bit overwhelmed.

“Pride,” he said. “Just proud.”

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About The Author

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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