As the Hawks stood on their mud-soaked sideline, they knew they didn’t need the win. They knew they had already locked up the 2A League Championship. But this was bigger than just them.
Senior Beau Sparks dedicated this game to his uncle who passed away Wednesday. Sparks, however, had no idea he would be the hero of the game.
The game was a defensive battle throughout, with the first score coming in the fourth quarter off of a 9 yard run from Sam O’Hara of Washougal. The Panthers took a 7-0 lead with just over nine minutes remaining in the game.
Josiah Niemela answered minutes later for the Hawks, sneaking in a 15 yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7 apiece and force overtime.
Washougal won the coin toss, but vouched to give the ball to Hockinson.
On the Hawks third play, Jess Krahn found, as fate would have it, Sparks in the back of the endzone for a 20 yard pass. Sparks barely managed to stay in-bounds, and the score counted, 14-7 Hawks.
It was the Panthers’ turn to force a second overtime, and, after penalties pushed them back to the Hockinson 40 yard line, facing 4th and inches, quarterback Colton Sullivan kept the ball himself and reached for the first down.
The ball spot was close and the chains were needed to be sure whether or not he made it. The run succeeded by mere inches, giving the Panthers a breath of relief.
The Hockinson defense was undeterred, forcing yet another 4th down scenario.
This attempt, however, found Sparks, as he finalized the score with the game-sealing interception.
Following the game, an emotional Sparks would not accept all the glory.
“I’m just grateful. It wasn’t just me. The whole game was a struggle. My linemen are the best linemen in the league. All those guys are amazing. Secondly, going back to my uncle Greg, it was very emotional. It was tough but he was watching over me the whole time”
“Beau’s a very popular kid on the team. It’s hard to see anybody go through that. I know, losing your uncle two days ago, it’s tough, but you can sit at home and think about it or you can come out here with your buddies and play a fantastic football game and it helps,” Coach Rick Steele said. “He dedicated this game to his uncle and I think that’s great.”
Hockinson finished the season with a 4-0 record in league, claiming the League Championship for the third time.
“To go 4-0, I’m shocked. I really am. We knew we had some tough weeks during the season. The kids just played outstanding all year,” Steele said. “This is Hockinson football. We talk a lot about being a family. This year, we have 14 seniors who have been fantastic leaders who have made this team a family. It’s more than just football.”
Next up: Hockinson vs. W.F. West, 2A district playoff
HOCKINSON 14, WASHOUGAL 7, OT
Washougal 0 0 0 7 0— 7
Hockinson 0 0 0 7 7—14
W — Sam O’Hara 9 run (O’Hara kick)
H — Niemela 15 run (Klodt kick)
H — Sparks 20 pass from Krahn (Klodt kick)
Rushing — Washougal — O’Hara 19-56, Sullivan 7-47, Howard 9-30, Camden 8-22, Tofell 4-3. Hockinson — Niemela 17-94, McElveny 5-53, Barclay 4-13, Kirschenbaum 2-10, Dunn 1-3, Krahn 2-0.
Passing — Washougal — Sullivan 7-16-3-55. Hockinson — Krahn 4-15-2-72.
Receiving — Washougal — Short 2-23, Tofell 4-21, Howard 1-11. Hockinson — Barclay 3-52, Sparks 1-19.