Hockinson Hawks 2019 Preview

Hockinson Hawks, High School Football, Hockinson, Rick Steele, Levi Crum, Peyton Brammer, Sawyer Racanelli, Takumi Veley, Ki Haden, Nathan Balderas, 2A GSHL

Coach: Rick Steele

2018: 13-0, Class 2A state champions for the second year in a row; 6-0 2A GSHL, league champions

Hockinson coach Rick Steele can point to two consecutive Class 2A state titles to motivate his 2019 squad for the upcoming high school football season. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson coach Rick Steele can point to two consecutive Class 2A state titles to motivate his 2019 squad for the upcoming high school football season. Photo by Mike Schultz

Biggest offseason news:

Sawyer Racanelli, one of the top recruits in the state as a wide receiver, tore a ligament in his knee and will miss the 2019 season. Racanelli, who was on pace to break the state record for most career receiving yards, had already announced his intention to sign with the Washington Huskies. According to Racanelli, the Huskies assured him that the scholarship offer remains. (He cannot sign until December or next February.) … The other big offseason news was the arrival of the championship rings — for the second year in a row.

At stake in 2019:

The Hawks will be going for their sixth consecutive league title and third consecutive state title. Yes, that will be a lot more difficult to do without Racanelli, but the Hawks are a power program now. Winners of 27 games in a row, this is not just a program designed for a one- or two-year run. Teams likely will not win three, four, or five state titles in a row, but top programs can strive to be among the top five every year. Teams that are that good always have a shot to win it all. That is where Hockinson is these days.

Spring/Summer standouts and stories:

Liam Mallory. Will be stepping in for Racanelli at wide receiver, and he used this summer to improve every aspect of his game.

Cody Wheeler. Like Mallory, he is a sophomore, too. He looked fantastic at linebacker this spring and summer, according to the coach.
Steele said the Hawks used a lot of the summer to look at the No. 2 players on the depth chart. They went to the Linfield camp and a lot of those players stepped up their games and proved they are ready when called on this season. 

Skill position players of note:

Levi Crum. The quarterback threw for more than 50 TD passes a year ago. He’s better this year. “The biggest thing he brings to us is leadership, his confidence, and his playmaking ability,” Steele said. “He throws the ball really well but is just as dangerous on the ground. He’s been a great leader in the weight room. Staying positive with Sawyer going down, Levi hasn’t changed a bit. A fantastic leader for us.”

Hockinson quarterback Levi Crum returns to lead the Hawks once again this season. Crum passed for more than 50 touchdowns last season. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson quarterback Levi Crum returns to lead the Hawks once again this season. Crum passed for more than 50 touchdowns last season. Photo by Mike Schultz

Peyton Brammer. Back from the foot injury. Caught 20 TD passes last year before missing the final two games of the season. Known for his basketball skills, too, but don’t forget he has several Division-I football scholarship offers. Now all the focus of the defense is going to be on him. With Sawyer being out, he’s ready to be The Man.

Hockinson receiver Peyton Brammer has displayed the ability to make acrobatic catches. He returns to what appears to be another high-powered Hawks’ offense. Photo by Mike Schultz
Hockinson receiver Peyton Brammer has displayed the ability to make acrobatic catches. He returns to what appears to be another high-powered Hawks’ offense. Photo by Mike Schultz

Liam Mallory. Defensive back who made four huge defensive plays in the championship game last year as a freshman. Will see a lot of time on offense this year, most likely taking over Racanelli’s starting position.

Makaio Juarez. Slot receiver. “He’s that kid, when you put him in a phone booth with 11 other guys, they can’t touch him,” Steele said. “He’s fast.”

Jeremiah Faulstick. The tight end was a constant worker in the offseason. Up to 230 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame. Will give Crum an extra weapon in the passing game.

Daniel Thompson and Cody Wheeler. Thompson, a junior, switched programs, going from Battle Ground to Hockinson. Wheeler is a sophomore. Both running backs will get plenty of carries. Thompson gives the Hawks the “home run” threat out of the backfield.

Jake Talarico. So much focus on the offense, but give the defense some credit, too. That defense is a huge reason for the 27-game win streak. Talirico is one of the defensive leaders, playing linebacker. 

Linemen of note: 

Ki Haden. “Good golly, this is a kid who really hit the weight room hard,” Steele said. Now at 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, the Hawks are looking for another big year from him. He was all-league last year.

Takumi Veley. Another all-league offensive lineman, this will be his third consecutive year as a starter. He brings experience and smarts to the position.

Nathan Balderas. Another three-year starter, he’s known more for his defense. However, Steele also believes he is one of the best left tackles in the state. He is 6-foot-4, 328 pounds but moves extremely fast. Real athletic. Also plays lacrosse.

Thanks to (left to right) Takumi Veley, Ki Haden and Nathan Balderas, the Hockinson line should produce big dividends in 2019. Photo by Mike Schultz
Thanks to (left to right) Takumi Veley, Ki Haden and Nathan Balderas, the Hockinson line should produce big dividends in 2019. Photo by Mike Schultz

Coach Talk: 

“Our expectations are to win another state title,” Steele said. “We know that’s going to be harder. Look at position by position: Our offensive line is better. Our offensive backfield is better. We return Peyton (Bramer). Makaio (Juarez) at slot is going to be better. Really, the only position we will not be better, it’s Sawyer’s spot, and I feel really good about Liam Mallory at that spot. Will will be as good without Sawyer? No. But we’ll be pretty darn close.  

Biggest Games on the Schedule:

Woodland has given Hockinson the only real tests the past few years in league play, but the Beavers graduated a ton of talent. So let’s go with a non-league game. Archbishop Murphy comes to town in Week 2. A year ago, the Hawks traveled there and won a game that was broadcast on regional TV. Archbishop Murphy and Hockinson have combined to win the last three Class 2A state titles.

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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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