Highlights as Almira/Coulee-Hartline sets scoring record in 1B title win over Sunnyside Christian
Maguire Isaak and Parker Zappone have been here before.
The junior quarterback and senior running back for the Almira-Coulee Hartline Warriors are just two years removed as members of the 2015 state title team.
The dynamic duo wasted little time getting started in securing the Warriors 84-60 win over the Sunnyside Christian Knights in the 2017 1B state football championship Friday at the Tacoma Dome, with Isaak, the quarterback, finishing with 611 total yards, eight passing touchdowns and four rushing TDs for the eight-man trophy.
His night broke the previous 1B state championship record of 601 total yards of offense set by Tri-Cities Prep’s Will Hoppes in 2009.
The win gave the Warriors their fourth state football championship, while the Knights suffered their first loss of the season.
"Honestly, it's hard to put into words," Almira-Coulee Hartline coach Brandon Walsh said. "Just so proud of the kids and their effort all season long."
From the moment Almira-Coulee Hartline (12-2) received the opening kickoff, it never let Sunnyside Christian (13-1) take a breath.
Zappone finished with 116 yards rushing, 188 receiving yards and four touchdowns as the Warriors’ offense scored a state-championship record 84 points, passing Tri-Cities Prep’s 80 points scored in the 2009 title game. Isaak had 243 rushing yards and 368 passing yards and accounted for 12 touchdowns.
In the games opening seven minutes, Zappone gave the Warriors 100 all-purpose yards, while Isaak had 116 yards through the air.
"It's been a dream to be a part of another state championship," said Isaak, whose brother, Dallas Isaak, was the 1B state player of the year when ACH won the title two years ago. "It's just an awesome feeling."
Almira-Coulee Hartline's quarterback/halfback duo wasted less than two minutes securing he game's first points. Zappone needed just three rushes to put the Warriors on the Knights' 14 yard line after beginning the opening drive at midfield.
Isaak rolled out to the right and found a wide open Zappone in he end zone for the touchdown. And with 7 minutes, 29 second left in the first quarter, it was Isaak with the quarterback keeper from the 18 yard line. Isaak found the hole on the left side of the defense and seized the opportunity. The Isaak touchdown run gave Almira-Coulee Hartline the early 12-0 lead.
Sunnyside Christian has relied on the Marsh trio of senior quarterback Chance Marsh, junior running back Kyler Marsh, and senior receiver Lane Marsh.
"We had some hiccups last season," Zappone said. "We were determined to come back stronger this year. The difference was that we knew and believed we deserved to be here."
But with 6:33 left in the first quarter, it was Chance Marsh cutting the Warriors' lead to 12-6 after running in a touchdown from the 2 yard line.
But Issak and Zappone weren't intimidated.
In the final 5:34 of the first quarter, Isaak connected with Zappone on a 54-yard touchdown pass giving the Warriors the 18-8 lead after one quarter.
Isaak needed just eight seconds in the second to balloon the Almira-Coulee Hartline lead to 26-8 when he connected with Payton Nielson for a 21-yard touchdown catch.
The second quarter continued to be the much-anticipated quarterback battle as Isaak connected with Gage Burchill for a 6 yard touchdown pass, while Chance Marsh drew the game a little closer with touchdown passes to Lane Marsh and Lukke Wagenaar.
However, Zappone's 135 all-purpose yards, and Isaak's 217 all-purpose yards gave Almira-Coule Hartline the 34-22 halftime lead.
"The effort [from those two] was awesome," Walsh said. "Just talented, tough kids. It's not an accident that they make huge plays when the game's on the line because they work that hard."
Zappone's been here before -- leading in a state title game before.
So the senior opened the second half by intercepting an arrant throw by Chance Marsh, which led to another Issak-to-Nielson touchdown pass.
But don't forget about Isaak. He's been there before, too.
And, with 6:30 left in the third quarter, the junior proved it with a touchdown throw that put the game away.
Isaak dropped back to pass on second-down-and long, and he found Zappone wide open, and the two connected on a 44-yard, down-field bomb, giving the Warriors the 48-30 lead.
Two drives later, Isaak officially gave his team the win and their second state title since 2015 on a 91-yard touchdown run.
"Isaak is great for a junior," Zappone said. "He sees the whole field and always puts the ball in a great spot."
If Isaak (41-21, 368 pass yards, 8 TDs; 26 rushes, 243 yards, 4 TDs) and Zappone (6 catches, 188 pass yards, 4 TDs;) proved anything in Almira-Coulee Hartline's state championship win over Sunnyside Christian, it was that they know what it takes to win a title.
The two were younger in 2015 and took in the state championship as an experience.
This time around, though, the duo did far more than take in the sights.
"I'm just so proud of this team," Zappone said. "We didn't beat them in week one. So this game was about being better and making a difference."
Jerod Young: 253-597-8680