Hockinson football ready for a brand new stage

Hawks will be playing in state high school semifinals for first time Saturday

The confidence is there.

The Hockinson Hawks have built up their belief week after week, win after win this football season.

So a long, long road trip to another corner of the state is not going to give them any doubt. If anything, it just gives them a chance to perform in unfamiliar settings.

Hockinson is scheduled to leave Friday morning to travel to Spokane, then take on West Valley at noon Saturday in a Class 2A state semifinal game at Gonzaga Prep High School.

“I like the way we match up with them,” Hockinson coach Rick Steele said. “I really do.”

Hockinson football prepares for its first trip to the state semifinals.
Hockinson receiver Sawyer Racanelli (11) is a big part of a Hawks’ offense that is averaging more than 45 points a game heading into Saturday’s Class 2A state semifinals game. Photo by Mike Schultz

West Valley likes to run the football but also uses a lot of different looks to get into its running game, the coach said.
“They are a multiple-set offense,’’ Steele said. “Wildcat, double-tight one series, and the next series, they are in five-wide (receivers). Even in five-wide, their quarterback likes to run the football.”

Which quarterback? Steele said he has noticed two throughout the games he has been able to scout via video. Matt Allen scored on a touchdown run last week in the quarterfinals and Blake Transue made first-team, all-league as a dual threat, according to the Spokesman Review.

“From what it looks like to me, they’re built to be big and strong and run over you,” Steele said. “We’re fast. Couple different styles. We’ll see which one wins out.”

Hockinson’s style is more than speed. The offense is accurate and efficient, with a passing game never before seen in Clark County. Quarterback Canon Racanelli has 50 touchdown passes this season, 121 in his career. Sawyer Racanelli is the top target, but the Hawks have so many receivers who can get the job done: Peyton Brammer, Matt Henry, and Jake Beslanowitch, just to name three.

Hockinson was “held” to 34 points last week in a 34-20 win over Liberty. That was the first time Hockinson scored fewer than 41 points all season. The Hawks average better than 45 points per game.

Hockinson’s defense is overlooked because of that offense. But this team is giving up less than 11 points per game. Last week was just the second time all season a team reached 20 points against the Hawks.

West Valley is at 36.9 points per game on offense and gives up about 12 points on defense. West Valley, though, has not given up more than 20 points in a single game this season.

Oh, and both teams are 12-0.

As Steele said, something’s gotta give.

Regardless of the outcome, the Hawks say they will enjoy the experience. Steele said the players are excited about the trip together, the overnight, the walk-through that might happen in a ballroom at the hotel.

This is the longest road trip in program history. Fittingly, it is the first time the Hawks have reached the state semifinals. That also means they practiced Thanksgiving for the first time.

Hockinson football prepares for its first trip to the state semifinals.
Hockinson’s players have had plenty of opportunities to celebrate after scoring a touchdown this season, just as Jake Beslanowitch (2) and Matt Henry (25) are shown doing here after a score in a playoff win over Pullman. Photo by Mike Schultz

“It’s huge,” Steele said. “We’ve been talking about this to our kids for years. We want to practice on Thanksgiving Day, and now we’re here. The kids are still pretty high from last week’s win. Haven’t heard any grumbling at all about practicing Thanksgiving Day.”

Everyone seems happy at Hockinson these days.

“I can’t go anywhere without people stopping me and talking” Steele said. “The community is really, really excited. We’ve always had really good support here. But it’s neat just to see the community as a whole be really excited and proud of these boys.”

The noon kickoff will be a bit odd for the Hawks. But they did play a 2 p.m. game on a Friday earlier this postseason.

Oh, and the winner of this game advances to the championship game the following week at an even more bizarre time.

Not too many football games kick off at 10 a.m., but this season, the Class 2A championship game in Tacoma Dome on Dec. 2 is 10 a.m.

The Hawks did not mind getting together on Thanksgiving. They don’t mind the road trip to Spokane. So if they are playing in Week 14, they certainly will not be worried about a 10 a.m. game.

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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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