Road to the Gridiron Classic: Hockinson
Never has a stray football struck a lamp in the Racanelli household, Josh Racanelli says.
Josh and his two sons, Canon and Sawyer, have thrown footballs back and forth for hours in their living room. There have been some near misses but he swears they’ve never broken anything.
Josh, 45, chalks that up to how precise his sons are at passing. They are, after all, a family of quarterbacks.
“They’re full of football players,” Hockinson High School coach Rick Steele said. “And that’s what they do — they wing the ball around.”
In the house, in the backyard, on the turf – everywhere.
“I can’t even count, honestly,” Sawyer said. “It’s a crazy amount, the times we’ve thrown the ball around.”
But Saturday morning’s venue is sure to stand out.
For the first time, the Racanelli boys will sling the ball inside the Tacoma Dome, where the undefeated Hawks (13-0) will play for their first Class 2A state title at 10 a.m against Tumwater.
Canon, a senior, is Hockinson’s star quarterback, and has thrown for 3,805 yards and 53 touchdowns so far this season.
Sawyer, a sophomore, and converted wide receiver, leads the Hawks with 79 catches for 1,642 yards and 25 scores.
And Josh, the offensive coordinator, gets to mentor his two sons from the sideline.
“It’s one of those deals where I have to pinch myself,” Josh said.
Contending for a state championship has been a dream for a long time, he said.
Josh started his family’s quarterbacking tradition when he played high school football at Mountain View in Vancouver. A junior varsity quarterback, he attended a football camp at Boise State just before his senior season.
Former Seattle Seahawks great and NFL coach, Jim Zorn, was an assistant with the Broncos at the time. He approached Josh and knocked on his helmet.
Boise State coaches liked what they saw, and followed Josh during his senior season.
He had size, an arm, and signed to play in college with the Broncos. He played for Boise State until Zorn left, and eventually transferred to Portland State.
There, he played under another well-known coach, Chris Petersen. Today at Hockinson, Josh runs the same offensive system he learned at Portland State.
“That, for me, was when I fell in love with playing quarterback,” Josh said. “There was way more to it than I’d ever been exposed to.”
Football, and the quarterback position in particular, just stuck. And he passed it along to his boys.
When Canon was born, he was aptly named for what his arm would later turn into. Entering this weekend’s final, his 53 touchdown passes are eighth on the state’s all-time list for a single season.
“He is so confident, and he is a competitor,” Steele said. “In 30 years of coaching football, I’ve never seen a competitor like him. He just refuses to lose.”
Canon said he has been watching film on Tumwater (11-2) since the T-Birds played Union in September.
“I’ve always been a huge student of the game,” he said. “I can sit up and draw plays and talk about football for hours.”
The love for football is shared. Sawyer has been Canon’s top target this season, and the two have celebrated touchdown connections every game.
Sawyer said playing quarterback when he was younger helped him transition to wide receiver. It’s helped with the timing of his routes, reading coverages and understanding the need to catch the ball at its high point.
“I have full trust in him against anyone in the state, and I feel like he has full trust in me to make the right play,” Canon said.
The brothers played together last season, but this season has special meaning because it’s Canon’s last, Sawyer said.
“Knowing this is going to be our last game together, and that he’ll be graduating next (spring), I want him to go out on top,” Sawyer said.
This team, many of whom have played together since youth football, has vowed since the season began that it would end up playing for a state title.
“We kept talking about how we’re not done until we slide that ring on our finger,” Canon said. “We truly believe that. I think that is what makes us so hard to beat.”
What the Hawks have accomplished this season has ignited a fever in Hockinson, said Steele, a Clark County native who was an assistant at Hudson’s Bay, LaCenter and Prairie before beginning the Hawks’ football program.
Last week, when Hockinson triumphed over West Valley of Spokane in the semifinals, the team bus received a police escort when it returned home. The players were welcomed by hundreds of excited fans.
“We’re a school that’s only been here for 14 years,” Steele said. “We’re the (fourth) smallest 2A school in the state. For us to even think about getting to this game is huge.”
Football is family in Hockinson, and it breeds community — from the Racanelli living room and beyond.
“It’s something special,” Canon said. “When people say it’s a family thing, it truly is.”
State single-season TD record
Eight quarterbacks in state history have thrown for at least 50 touchdowns in a season, and that includes Hockinson senior Canon Racanelli, who will play his final game on Saturday in the 2A state championship against Tumwater.
Source: David Maley, Rosalia