After knocking off three-time defending Class 1A state champion Royal High School in the state semifinals last week, Colville had all of the momentum in the world.
The fifth-seeded Indians took that momentum and ran with it in the championship game Saturday morning at the Tacoma Dome, controlling the action from start to finish, and routing 1A Northeast League rival No. 10 Newport, 48-7, to capture the program’s first-ever state title.
“This is huge,” said Colville quarterback John Knight, who completed 7 of 12 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing six times for 26 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“This community has done so much for us and I thank everyone out there who watched any of our games, supported us, donating any money, I thank you guys. It was huge.”
In the semifinals a week earlier, Colville pulled off one of the biggest upsets in state tournament history, knocking off the top-seeded Knights, who were tied for the longest active winning streak in the nation at 53 games.
“They were really jacked to do that,” said Colville coach Randy Cornwell, who is in his 22nd year with the program. “We had a quiet confidence. We knew that would be a tough out, but our kids wanted to play them, they were ready to play. ...
“They had incredible resolve. They knew they weren’t going to be beat.”
But after the upset win in the semifinals, it was business as usual leading up to the championship game for the Indians, who Cornwell said he sees every morning at 5:30 a.m. lifting weights before school starts.
“We felt very confident coming into this, and the reason we did was because our kids prepared hard all week,” Cornwell said. “We knew there was no letdown.
“Come Monday, they were just licking their chops. There was no patting each other on the back about how good they were for beating Royal.”
It was all Colville (11-2) in the first half against Newport, and the Indians carried the momentum throughout. the Indians took a 27-7 lead into the break, scoring at will and stifling the Grizzlies’ offense.
Colville got the scoring started in the first quarter, when senior quarterback John Knight punched in a 1-yard keeper to give the Indians a 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Colville scored twice on a Grant Michaliszyn 1-yard run and a Jakob Larson 30-yard run on an end-around, giving Colville a 20-0 lead.
Newport (11-2) showed signs of life with a desperately-needed answer, set up by a 52-yard kickoff return by Johnny Miller deep into Colville territory. Grizzlies quarterback Adam Moorhead found receiver Michael Owen for a 10-yard score to cap the drive.
But if Newport was ready to to climb back into the game, Colville was having none of it. Just before halftime, the Indians marched down the field, when Knight found a wide-open Jake Lindquist for a 29-yard touchdown, putting Colville up 27-7, heading into the break.
“That was big,” Knight said. “We needed that momentum. Our coach always tells us that we’re a second half team. That definitely helps when you have the momentum.”
Colville scored all of the game’s points in the second half, shutting out Newport in the final two frams. The game’s final nail-in-the-coffin play came early in the fourth quarter, when Knight hit Larson on a deep 68-yard touchdown pass.
“Of course, playing a league opponent, we know each other,” Cornwell said. “Credit to them, they came out in the first quarter and took away things we like to do. We’re hard to defend because we have good receivers, a great quarterback, a good running back and our line protects and can run block.
“You have to pick your poison. So when they were stopping the run, we know we could get people open downfield.”
And now, Colville has its first championship banner to hang.
“This group of seniors has been playing together since seventh grade, when we first came together after playing football as little kids,” Knight said. “That brotherhood, we’ve been together since then. We’re unbreakable. I love all these guys.”
NO. 10 NEWPORT
NO. 5 COLVILLE
C – John Knight 1 run (Lucas Michaelson kick)
C – Grant Michaliszyn 1 run (pass failed)
C – Jakob Larson 27 run (Michaelson kick)
N – Michael Owen 10 pass from Adam Moorhead (Moorhead kick)
C – Jake Lindquist 29 pass from Knight (Michaelson kick)
C – Trevor Morrison 4 run (Michaelson kick)
C – Knight 8 run (Michaelson kick)
C – Larson 68 pass from Knight (Michaelson kick)
Passing: N – Moorhead 11-21-0-78; Jacob Kirkwood 1-2-1-16. C – Knight 7-12-1-226.
Rushing: N – Danny Bradbury 13-43; Troy Hill 4-20; Tug Smith 1-11; Johnny Miller 2-8. C – Larson 12-90; Michaliszyn 8-67; Knight 6-26; Morrison 6-23.
Receiving: N – Smith 7-57; Owen 2-15; Moorhead 1-16; Keagan Stott 1-8. C – Larson 3-107; Lindquist 2-66; Chase Kanamu 1-31; Paul Shirko 1-22.