Hockinson headed to state championship game

Hawks run away from West Valley in the second half for a 53-30 win

The Hockinson Hawks are going to play for the Class 2A state football championship.

Hockinson broke open a close game with West Valley of Spokane in the second half Saturday to defeat the Eagles 53-30 in a semifinal game of the state playoffs played at Gonzaga Prep High School in Spokane.

Hockinson, now 13-0 on the season, will meet Tumwater in the championship game at 10 a.m. at the Tacoma Dome on Sat., Dec. 2.

“This group, they’ve been saying it all year, ‘coach, we’re playing 14 games,’’’ said Hockinson coach Rick Steele, referring to his players’ commitment to make it to the state championship game. “These kids, when they say something like that, they mean it and they’ve really carried through on that. Now, we’ve just got to finish with one more big win.’’

The Hawks led West Valley 28-23 at halftime. The first half included five lead changes in the second quarter alone. However, the second half belonged to Hockinson, which took control of the game with two key defensive plays.

On West Valley’s first offensive play of the third quarter, the Eagles fumbled the football in their own end zone. Hockinson’s Kordell Johnson recovered the fumble for a touchdown to increase the Hawks’ lead to 34-23.

“You could just feel the energy on our sideline take off,’’ said Steele, referring to the emotional lift Hockinson’s players received from Johnson’s defensive touchdown. “It was good for our kids to have a little adversity in that first half because we played ahead so much all year.’’

West Valley then mounted a long drive from its own 18-yard line all the way downfield to the Hockinson 7-yard line. On a third down play, the Eagles’ pass was tipped and Johnson pulled down the interception and raced 59 yards before he was tackled at the West Valley 36-yard line. Six plays later, Canon Racanelli pushed his way into the end zone from 1-yard out to give the Hawks a 40-23 lead.

Hockinson added two more scores in the fourth quarter, a 1-yard pass from Racanelli to Matt Henry and a 58-yard run by Tony Richardson to complete its scoring. But, it was the Hawks’ defense that controlled the second half.

Hockinson defeated West Valley of Spokane 53-30 Saturday in a semifinal game of the Class 2A high school state football playoffs. The win advances the Hawks to the state championship game.
Hockinson quarterback Canon Racanelli (12), shown here in a game earlier this season, had four touchdown passes and two touchdown runs Saturday to lead the Hawks to a 53-30 win over West Valley of Spokane in a Class 2A state semifinal playoff game at Gonzaga Prep High School. Photo by Mike Schultz

“We talked a lot about it at halftime,’’ Steele said. “We knew we had to stop their big plays. The only way they were staying in the game was with their big plays. We adjusted to a 4-deep secondary for the second half and that really shut down their passing game. We had kids all over the place making big plays.’’

Canon Racanelli finished with four touchdown passes and he rushed for two more scores to lead Hockinson. He was 18-for-28 passing for 340 yards and added 80 yards rushing on 13 carries. Racanelli now has 54 touchdown passes and 17 touchdown runs this season.

Racanelli got the scoring started on the Hawks’ first possession when he hit brother Sawyer Racanelli with a 40-yard scoring strike to put Hockinson on top 7-0.

West Valley answered later in the first quarter with a 12-yard touchdown run by quarterback Matt Allen and the game was tied at 7.

In the second quarter, Canon Racanelli scampered around the left end and raced 29 yards for a score and Hockinson once again had a seven-point lead at 14-7. However, on the Hawks’ next possession, Hockinson was whistled for a holding penalty as Racanelli dropped back in the end zone to pass. The penalty resulted in a safety to trim the Hawks’ lead to 14-9.

West Valley then took its first lead, at 16-14, when Allen hit Collin Sather with a 52-yard touchdown pass.

However, the Hawks answered on their next possession, driving 86 yards for a go-ahead score. The final 51 yards came on another Racanelli-to-Racanelli touchdown pass, which put Hockinson ahead 21-16.

West Valley wasted no time in responding, as Allen hit Connor Whitney on a 71-yard touchdown pass on the Eagles next offensive play, which put them back on top 23-21.

Hockinson regained the lead, this time for good, when Canon Racanelli hit Peyton Brammer on a 17-yard scoring pass with 1:34 left in the first half. That score gave the Hawks a 28-23 lead heading into halftime. That score was set up by a 71-yard pass play from Racanelli-to-Racanelli.

Sawyer Racanelli finished with six catches for 216 yards and the two touchdowns. Brammer also had six catches, which totaled 95 yards and the one score.

“We just knew out there on the edge they couldn’t stay with our kids,’’ Steele said of West Valley’s inability to cover Hockinson’s prolific receiving corps. “Canon made big throws and we had big catches. We did what we normally do on offense.’’

In addition to Johnson’s heroics on defense, Hockinson’s Jonathon Domingos chipped in with two sacks and Nathan Balderas and Richardson each added one sack. Sawyer Racanelli also contributed an interception to the defensive effort.

Tumwater advanced to the championship game with a 10-6 victory over Archbishop Murphy Saturday in the other 2A semifinal game.

“They’re a good football team,’’ Steele said of Tumwater. “It’s going to be a contrast in styles. They run the football and we throw it.’’

 

HOCKINSON 28, WEST VALLEY 23

Hockinson  7  21  12  13 — 53

West Valley  7  16  0  7 — 30

First quarter

Hockinson — Sawyer Racanelli, 40-yard pass from Canon Racanelli. (Nick Charles kick)

West Valley — Matt Allen, 12-yard run. (Chase Howat kick)

Second quarter

Hockinson — Canon Racanelli, 29-yard run. (Charles kick)

West Valley — Safety, Hockinson penalty in the end zone.

West Valley — Collin Sather, 52-yard pass from Allen. (Howat kick)

Hockinson — Sawyer Racanelli, 51-yard pass from Canon Racanelli. (Charles kick)

West Valley — Connor Whitney, 71-yard pass from Allen. (Howat kick)

Hockinson — Peyton Brammer, 17-yard pass from Canon Racanelli. (Charles kick)

Third quarter

Hockinson — Kordell Johnson, recovered fumble in end zone. (Pass failed)

Hockinson — Canon Racanelli, 1-yard run. (Kick failed)

Fourth quarter

Hockinson — Matt Henry, 1-yard pass from Canon Racanelli. (Charles kick)

Hockinson — Tony Richardson, 58-yard run. (Kick failed)

West Valley — Sather, 39-yard rushing touchdown. (Howat kick)

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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