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Hockinson comes from behind for second straight state championship

Sawyer Racanelli rushes for five touchdowns and throws for another as the Hawks win their second straight Class 2A football title

TACOMA — Hockinson. History. Hand in hand.

“This has never been done in Clark County,” Sawyer Racanelli said.

It has now.

Hockinson’s players and coaches celebrate after winning their second consecutive Class 2A state football championship Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson’s players and coaches celebrate after winning their second consecutive Class 2A state football championship Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

Racanelli rushed for a championship-game record five touchdowns as Hockinson rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to beat Lynden 42-37 on Saturday afternoon, clinching the Class 2A state high school football title.  

The victory gives Hockinson back-to-back football championships, the first team from the county to accomplish that feat. The Hawks completed a 13-0 season to make it 27 consecutive wins, the longest streak in the state in all classifications.

“I don’t even know how to explain it. It just means a ton,” Hockinson coach Rick Steele said. “So proud of these guys. They should go down in Clark County history. They deserve that. There have been a lot of years of football, and no (county) team has ever done it.”

The way the Hawks did it will be remembered as well.

Hockinson players Nathan Balderas (71) and Jonathan Domingos (42) share a special moment with the Class 2A state championship trophy Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson players Nathan Balderas (71) and Jonathan Domingos (42) share a special moment with the Class 2A state championship trophy Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

A week after coming back from 17 points down in the semifinals, the Hawks did it again in the championship game. They also had to go away from their usual incredible passing game and opt for a running attack.

Racanelli scored five rushing touchdowns, all in the second half. A wide receiver, he is the team’s quarterback in the Wildcat formation. The Hawks dared the Lions to stop him, and the Lions could not.

Oh, Racanelli also threw a touchdown pass to quarterback Levi Crum in the first half.

Both of those players gave credit to God, and then they credited their teammates and their fans.

“Ultimately, this is for our community,” Racanelli said. “To all the people who have supported us through the years. I’m at a loss for words.”

Hockinson receiver Sawyer Racanelli (9) rushed for 85 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Hawks to a 42-37 win over Lynden in the Class 2A state high school football championship game Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson receiver Sawyer Racanelli (9) rushed for 85 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Hawks to a 42-37 win over Lynden in the Class 2A state high school football championship game Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

“This is crazy. Just crazy,” Crum said. “In August, our goal was to make it back to this game and just do what we did last year. But to come back from 17 points to win this? It’s unbelievable.”

Garrett Gundy is one of 14 seniors on the Hockinson squad.

“Oh my God. It’s something special, for sure,” he said. “It was a thought last year. Our goal was just to make it to the championship game.”

Then they won it and got this opportunity to repeat.

“We had the feeling,’’ Gundy said. “We knew what it’s like to be here. We’re going to get there again. We’re going to play that game for a reason, and we’re going to win.”

It just took the Hawks a little bit to get going Saturday.

Lynden scored on its first three possessions of the game, took a knee for a play just before halftime, and then scored on its first drive of the second half. Just like that, it was 24-7 Lynden.

“It was all in our minds,” Hockinson senior lineman Jacob Oldham said. “We just changed our mindset. We just worked hard from there on out. Everybody had everybody’s backs. We trusted each other. We played a fantastic game of football.”

Steele said he and the coaching staff always believed.

“We weren’t playing bad. We just weren’t playing well,” Steele said, adding that he felt his team was in a decent spot trailing only 17-7 at the half.

Hockinson fans cheer their team Saturday at the Tacoma Dome during the Class 2A state high school championship football game. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson fans cheer their team Saturday at the Tacoma Dome during the Class 2A state high school championship football game. Photo by Mike Schultz


Even after the Lions scored quickly in the second half, the Hawks were confident.

“I know this group,” Steele said. “Once something good happens, the momentum just takes off.”

Something good did happen. And that momentum did get going Hockinson’s way.

The Hawks went 75 yards on 11 plays, with Racanelli scoring on a 4-yard run with 3:50 to play in the third quarter, making it 24-14.

Less than a minute later, the Hawks recovered a fumble. Five plays later, Racanelli scored on a 3-yard run to make it 24-21.

Aidan Mallory, who had a pick-six in last year’s title game, intercepted a Lynden pass on the ensuing possession. His 30-yard return set up the Hawks to take the lead. They did it on a 7-yard touchdown run from Racanelli early in the fourth quarter.

There would be a couple more momentum shifts, though. Lynden returned the next kickoff 81 yards, setting up a 13-yard touchdown run by James Marsh to give the Lions the lead again, this time at 31-28.

By then, though, the Hawks had something going on offense, and with 10 minutes to play in the game, they knew they had plenty of time.

Hockinson went 61 yards on nine plays, with Racanelli cashing in on a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:35 to play, giving Hockinson a 35-31 advantage.

Another turnover doomed the Lions. They muffed the kickoff, and Niko Niehaus recovered the ball for the Hawks.

Guess who scored again? Racanelli’s 12-yard run gave the Hawks a 42-31 advantage.

Lynden got in the end zone once more with 2:42 remaining but did not recover the onside kick.

It was winning time for the Hockinson offense. Run. Run. Run. Run. Run. All by Racanelli. Two first downs to secure the win.

“It was pure heart,” Gundy said. “A shaky start. They punched us in the mouth. We had to punch them back.”

“We just had more heart,” Crum said.

“I was getting frustrated,” Racanelli acknowledged. “But I had to let everyone know I wasn’t going to give up on them, and I knew they weren’t going to give up on me. The coaches had faith in us. They knew we’d come back and win this game.”

And make history for Clark County football.


HOCKINSON 42, LYNDEN 37

Lynden 14 3 7 13 — 37

Hockinson 0 7 14 21 — 42

First quarter

L — Kobe Elsener 12 pass from James Marsh (Marko Samoukovic kick)

L —Marsh 27 pass from Brock Heppner (Samoukovic kick)

Second quarter

H — Levi Crum 11 pass from Sawyer Racanelli (Nick Charles kick)

L — Samoukovic 20 FG

Third quarter

L — Marsh 2 run (Samoukovic kick)

H — Racanelli 4 run (Charles kick)

H — Racanelli 3 run (Charles kick)

Fourth quarter

H — Racanelli 7 run (Charles kick)

L — Marsh 13 run (Samoukovic kick)

H — Racanelli 1 run (Charles kick)

H — Racanelli 12 run (Charles kick)

L — Heppner 23 pass from Marsh (pass failed)

Individual Statistics

RUSHING: Lynden — Marsh 19-120, Trevin Melendez 8-30, Heppner 5-6, Team 1-(minus 3). Hockinson — Racanelli 15-85, Crum 19-70, Cody Wheeler 7-22, Makaio Juarez 1-12, Garrett Gundy 1-5, Jon Domingos 1-4.

PASSING: Lynden — Marsh 7-16-1-107, Heppner 3-5-0-109. Hockinson — Crum 12-23-1-160, Racanelli 2-2-0-27.

RECEIVING: Lynden — Heppner 6-95, Grant Vanderyacht 2-82, Marsh 1-27, Elsner 1-12. Hockinson — Racanelli 5-55, Jeremy Faulstick 3-60, Liam Mallory 2-31, Wyatt Jones 1-16, Gundy 1-14, Crum 1-11, Wheeler 1-0.

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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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