TACOMA — Hockinson eventually ran away with a 35-22 win over Tumwater in the 2A state title.
And it was largely credit to a snap decision late in the second quarter.
After the Hawks dug themselves out of a 10-point hole, they took their first lead with eight seconds left in the first half when Canon Racanelli connected with running back Bailey Jones on a 17-yard wheel route. The touchdown also gave the Hawks momentum going into the half knowing they’d be receiving to start the second half.
And the call to hit Jones, a receiver-converted running back, was all Racanelli’s read.
“I saw one-on-one coverage on the outside,” he said. “And when I was rolling to the right, that backer would flow super, super hard so I knew Bailey had one-on-one coverage on the outside and I trusted him to make a play.”
Touchdown Hockinson. Bailey Jones dives to the pylon on the far side. Hockinson leads 14-10 with 8 seconds left in half. pic.twitter.com/WPZpiFaCL4
— Micah Rice (@col_mrice) December 2, 2017
It was a look that Hockinson hadn’t shown this season. Jones had just five catches for 68 yards coming into the state final.
When the quarterback went to make the play call, his dad, offensive coordinator Josh Racanelli, was hesitant.
“I wasn’t too hip on it, but he convinced me that he thought it was something that would work,” Josh Racanelli said. “So, I said go for it. He made a great play, and Bailey had a nose for the end zone.”
Jones switched to running back to give starter Colton Wheeler balance. He rushed for 335 yards and three touchdowns on 53 carries this season. Saturday’s touchdown catch was his first of the season.
And it proved to be key for the Hawks.
“We knew we had enough time to score there in the second quarter,” Steele said. “And it was a nice drive. Going in 14-10 knowing we get the ball second half, that was huge.”
Before every game this season, Aidan Mallory told his teammates he was going to take an interception back for a touchdown.
What a time to finally do it.
Mallory’s 45-yard interception return was the clinching play in the 2A state championship game Saturday. It gave Hockinson a 35-16 lead with 2:12 to play, putting the game out of reach despite Tumwater’s touchdown on the ensuing drive.
Mallory cut in front of a Tumwater receiver to snatch the pass in the left-side flat. He ran untouched down the sideline to the end zone. It was the first touchdown in high school for the 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior.
“I was just looking to see if I was going to make it,” Mallory said. “My dad and I have been talking all year long, you’ve got to stay calm, you’ve got to do this. It happened right in front of me, and I took advantage of it.”
Mallory’s dad saw his son not only make a big interception, but four solo tackles on the open field when Tumwater ran toward the outside.
By keeping containment, Hockinson’s outside defenders played a key role in stifling Tumwater’s powerful run game.
“We saw that when they had a lead block, the running back would cut underneath them,” Mallory said. “If they bounced it out, I would be there. I would try to throw my body in for my team and hopefully make the play.”
Being one-on-one against a Tumwater rusher didn’t faze Mallory. After all, he’s used to matching up against 6-foot-3 receivers Sawyer Racanelli and Peyton Brammer in practice.
“The whole summer, the whole year, I lined up across from them trying to get myself better.”
High praise for No. 12
Canon Racanelli put together a masterful performance on the biggest stage.
He threw for 316 yards, three touchdowns opposite one pick, ran for a team-best 83 yards and thrived in his role as essentially a co-offensive coordinator.
So when it was brought up that the 5-foot-11 quarterback is without a Division-I scholarship, Steele had a message:
“Not many people talk about him,” Steele said. “But that kid is one of the best quarterbacks, if not the best quarterback, in the state of Washington. I don’t care what level. Some college is going to take a chance on that kid and get one hell of a football player.”
— Andy Buhler (@AndyBuhler) December 2, 2017
Special helmet decals
All Hockinson players wore commemorative helmet decals for their first Gridiron Classic experience at the Tacoma Dome.
The helmets featured an ‘H’ with the exterior of the Tacoma Dome.
Quarterback Canon Racanelli said his mother, Sundee, who has a background in graphic design, assisted with the decals.