High School Sports

State championships: High school football games of the week, predictions

Hockinson wide receiver Sawyer Racanelli comes down with a 3-yard touchdown catch in front of Tumwater defenisive back Zack Gutierrez during Saturday’s 2A state football championship game in the Tacoma Dome on Dec. 2, 2017.
Hockinson wide receiver Sawyer Racanelli comes down with a 3-yard touchdown catch in front of Tumwater defenisive back Zack Gutierrez during Saturday’s 2A state football championship game in the Tacoma Dome on Dec. 2, 2017. toverman@theolympian.com

Previews and predictions for every high school football game to watch in this weekend’s state championships in the Tacoma Dome.

Note: Ranking numbers are seeds as assigned by the WIAA state playoffs seeding committees.



7:30 p.m. Saturday

Road to Gridiron Classic: Lake Stevens defeated No. 14 Curtis (56-42) in the first round, No. 6 Graham-Kapowsin (45-28) in the quarterfinals and No. 2 Woodinville (28-14) in the semifinals. Union defeated No. 16 Skyline (50-10) in the first round, No. 9 Bothell (49-35) in the quarterfinals and No. 5 Puyallup (35-28) in the semifinals.

Coaches: Tom Tri, 14th season at Lake Stevens (135-40 record). Rory Rosenbach, third season at Union (26-7 record).

About the Vikings: Lake Stevens is almost a perennial state qualifier — this is the Vikings’ fifth consecutive appearance in the bracket — but this is the program’s first trip to the title game since 1994, when it lost to O’Dea as a 3A school. This year’s version of the Vikings has one of the most dominant offenses in 4A, averaging an impressive 48.2 points per game behind QB Tre’ Long (166 of 230, 2,532 yards; 75 carries, 451 yards; 43 total TDs). WR Kasen Kinchen (41 catches, 927 yards, 13 total TDs), who also has a team-high seven interceptions, and WR Ian Hanson (54 catches, 902 yards, 11 total TDs) are Long’s top targets. RB Dallas Landeros (172 carries, 1,312 yards, 13 total TDs) adds balance, and has six games with 100-plus rushing yards, including every state playoff game. Lake Stevens has topped each of its opponents in the playoffs by at least two touchdowns.

About the Titans: Rosenbach is plenty familiar with the 4A Wesco powerhouse he’ll be standing opposite of Saturday night, after spending eight seasons with Glacier Peak before making the move to Vancouver. And, he’s built his own power at Union — the Titans have been the top-ranked team in 4A wire-to-wire this season. Dual-threat QB Lincoln Victor (154 of 219, 2,214 yards; 77 carries, 720 yards; 31 total TDs) has game-changing ability, while RB JoJo Siofele (120 carries, 833 yards; 48 catches, 688 yards; 15 total TDs) averages 6.9 yards per carry, and is tough to bring down in the open field. WR Darien Chase (60 catches, 878 yards, 15 total TDs), a Nebraska commit, is back from a hip injury he sustained on the first play of the game against Puyallup in last week’s semifinals, and is explosive in all three phases.

TNT pick: Union, 35-31



7:30 p.m. Friday

Road to Gridiron Classic: O’Dea defeated No. 15 Kamiakin (49-7) in the first round, No. 7 Peninsula (35-19) in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Mountain View (24-7) in the semifinals. Eastside Catholic defeated No. 16 Lake Washington (42-12) in the first round, No. 8 Timberline (44-14) in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Bellevue (41-3) in the semifinals.

Coaches: Monte Kohler, 34th season at O’Dea (335-54 record). Jeremy Thielbahr, eighth season at Eastside Catholic (89-12 record).

About the Fighting Irish: Kohler is making his 10th trip to the 3A state championship game with the Irish — and third in a row, including leading O’Dea to a title win over Rainier Beach last season. Power running football has long been a trademark for this program — this year’s attack is led by RB Mark Tafia (109 carries, 869 yards, 11 TDs), RB Cameron Daniels (111 carries, 698 yards, 15 TDs) and seven more backs with 100-plus rushing yards — so expect that to continue regardless of opponent. Eastside Catholic is undefeated this season against in-state opponents — and has an average margin of victory of 29.5 points — but O’Dea played the Crusaders the closest, losing by 18 in 3A Metro League Mountain play.

About the Crusaders: This Eastside Catholic team is loaded with Division I prospects — and is one of the most talented teams in state history from a recruiting perspective — but can the Crusaders cap a perfect in-state season with a win in the Tacoma Dome? Eastside Catholic’s only loss so far this season was in its opener against Oaks Christian (Calif.) in San Diego, and the Lions are ranked 11th in the nation (the Crusaders are No. 94). RB Sam Adams (74 carries, 860 yards, 21 total TDs) has 29 offers and averages 132.4 all-purpose yards per game. LB J.T. Tuimoloau has a team-leading seven sacks, and is the top-ranked recruit in the nation in the 2021 class.

TNT pick: Eastside Catholic, 30-21



1 p.m. Saturday

Road to Gridiron Classic: Lynden defeated No. 14 Eatonville (34-14) in the first round, No. 6 Tumwater (28-27) in the quarterfinals and No. 7 Fife (31-0) in the semifinals. Hockinson defeated No. 16 Washington (47-14) in the first round, No. 9 Steilacoom (35-28) in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Liberty (27-24) in the semifinals.

Coaches: Blake Van Dalen, second season at Lynden (17-6 record). Rick Steele, 14th season at Hockinson (95-53 record).

About the Lions: Lynden has been here many times before — and more so than most programs in the state. The Lions are making their 13th appearance in a title game, trailing only Bellevue (14) for most championship appearances in state history, and two of those Wolverines titles were vacated. Lynden has eight titles in its history, most recently in 2013, and has won six of those since 2006. But, do the Lions have the athletes to keep up with Hockinson’s high-flying passing attack? QB James Marsh (68 of 114, 1,043 yards; 116 carries, 634 yards; 26 total TDs) leads the Lions in passing and rushing, also lines up at receiver, and should match up well with Hockinson’s Sawyer Racanelli, who led the state in receiving last season, on defense at free safety.

About the Hawks: This Hockinson team will look a bit different from the team that decisively beat Tumwater for the 2A state title a season ago, but not too different. WR Sawyer Racanelli (99 catches, 1,611 yards, 30 total TDs), who has an offer from Oregon State, is still Hockinson’s go-to player, and has more than 2,000 all-purpose yards this season, averaging 165-plus per game. Racanelli will likely become an even bigger focus for the Hawks with his counterpart WR Peyton Brammer (56 catches, 1,013 yards, 20 TDs) out with a foot injury. Racanelli threw a touchdown pass, caught one, and ran for two more scores against Liberty last week with Brammer on the sideline. Meanwhile, QB Levi Crum (248 of 385; 3,668 yards; 92 carries, 516 yards; 56 total TDs) took over for graduated QB Canon Racanelli (Central Washington) this season, and has thrown for more than 200 yards in every game.

TNT pick: Hockinson, 30-27



10 a.m. Saturday

Road to Gridiron Classic: Newport defeated No. 7 La Salle (28-14) in the first round, No. 2 Zillah (7-6) in the quarterfinals and No. 6 Lynden Christian (27-14) in the semifinals. Colville defeated No. 12 Connell (48-7) in the first round, No. 4 Meridian (42-22) in the quarterfinals and No. 1 Royal (31-28) in the semifinals.

Coaches: David Pomante, second season at Newport (21-3 record). Randy Cornwell, 22nd season at Colville (141-90 record).

About the Grizzlies: Even though the Grizzlies lost their earlier meeting against 1A Northeast League rival Colville, 28-7, they were without starting QB Adam Moorhead, who the Indians haven’t yet faced. Moorhead is a dual-threat with speed to get to the outside, and a good arm, and adds more balance to an offense that previously had to rely mostly on workhorse RB Danny Bradbury (180 carries, 1,159 yards, 16 TDs). This is Newport’s first ever appearance in a state title game, and just third trip to the state playoffs in school history. The Grizzlies lost in the opening round in 1992, and made it to the semifinals last season — including beating Colville along the way — before being routed by eventual champion Royal.

About the Indians: Colville pulled off one of the biggest upsets in state tournament history in the semifinals last week, topping three-time defending state champion Royal, and ending the Knights’ nation-leading 53-game winning streak. But, don’t expect the Indians to look past their next opponent. Colville beat Newport in league play last year, too, only to be upended by the Grizzlies in the quarterfinals. Colville’s double wing offense has evolved since the last time the Indians were in the Tacoma Dome in 2014 — when they lost to Cascade Christian in their only previous appearance in the final — with dual-threat QB John Knight (75 of 135, 1,694 yards; 83 carries, 398 yards; 23 total TDs) and RB Jakob Larson (163 carries, 1,006 yards, 19 TDs) piloting the backfield. Colville’s defense has picked off 12 passes in its three state-playoff games so far.

TNT pick: Colville, 24-21



4 p.m. Friday

Road to Gridiron Classic: Kalama defeated No. 15 Liberty Christian (62-6) in the first round, No. 6 Northwest Christian of Colbert (31-6) in the quarterfinals and No. 6 Toledo (47-22) in the semifinals. Napavine defeated No. 13 Brewster (57-20) in the first round, No. 5 Chewelah (20-14) in the quarterfinals and No. 1 Adna (32-13) in the semifinals.

Coaches: Sean McDonald, fourth season at Kalama (41-8 record). Josh Fay, 12th season at Napavine (125-26 record).

About the Chinooks: 2B Central League teams are becoming a mainstay in the Tacoma Dome. Kalama is the defending 2B state champion, and Napavine is making its fourth title-game appearance in five years. The 2B title game has included at least one team from this league for eight straight seasons, and District 4 has been represented in 12 consecutive championship games. Kalama QB Alex Dyer (179 of 256, 2,640 yards, 44 TDs) is the reigning 2B state player of the year, and threw for 250 and two touchdowns when these two program’s met in league play — the Chinooks won, 20-13.

About the Tigers: Napavine most recently won a state title in 2016, beating Kalama along the way, but the Chinooks knocked the Tigers out last season in the semifinals, en route to their own championship. Kalama has won its last three meeting with the Tigers — though never by more than a touchdown — but Napavine has a convincing win over top-seeded Adna in last week’s semifinals, during which dual-threat QB Dawson Stanley rushed for three touchdowns and passed for two more, to build on. Stanley (139 of 267, 2,514 yards; 1,247 rushing yards; 48 total TDs) looks to match his older brother Wyatt, who guided the Tigers to the 2016 title in his senior season, with a win in the Tacoma Dome.

TNT pick: Napavine, 20-13



4 p.m. Saturday

Road to the Gridiron Classic: Almira-Coulee-Harline defeated No. 7 Crescent (100-16) in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Naselle (82-28) in the semifinals. Odessa defeated No. 8 Neah Bay (71-8) in the quarterfinals and No. 5 Quilcene (65-6) in the semifinals.

Coaches: Brandon Walsh, 19th season at Almira-Coulee-Hartline (132-84 record). Jeff Nelson, fourth season at Odessa (45-5 record).

About the Warriors: Last time QB Maguire Isaak (56 of 78, 1,732 yards; 74 carries, 849 yards; 44 total TDs) was in the Tacoma Dome he broke a 1B state championship record for total yards (611) and scored 12 total touchdowns to lift the Warriors to a title. The reigning 1B state player of the year has ACH back for another try, with just one loss this season, 56-22, to 1B Northeast League rival Odessa in October. RB/DB Hayden Loomis (57 carries, 1017 yards; 21 catches, 727 yards; 31 total TDs) leads the Warriors in rushing and receiving, has a team-high nine interceptions, and has recovered three fumbles this season.

About the Tigers: Can anyone stop this Odessa team? Can anyone score against them? The Tigers are 68 points away from reaching the 1,000 mark for the season, and average a classification-best 71.7 points per game. Odessa’s defense has allowed a classification-best 7.2 points per game, which is a rather remarkable total for eight-man football. QB Camden Weber (49 of 57, 1,558 yards; 17 carries, 311 yards; 29 total TDs) threatens through the air and on the ground, and RB/LB Marcus King (84 carries, 1,324 yards; 16 catches, 659 yards; 43 total TDs) is a star in all phases, has scored five different ways — including three times on special teams — and has a team-leading 77 tackles. Odessa won state titles in 1993 and 1989, but has lost in its past four championship appearances.

TNT pick: Odessa, 47-35

Lauren Smith covers the Seattle Mariners for The News Tribune. She previously covered high school sports at TNT and The Olympian, beginning in 2015. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Emerald Ridge High School.