TACOMA — The stage wasn’t too big, and nor the lights too bright for the Union Titans.
The will to win was there all season from tough opponents to tougher challenges.
And Saturday night was no different. Just call them the Triumphant Titans, who captured their first perfect season with a 52-20 victory in Saturday’s Class 4A football state championship game.
“My emotions are everywhere,” said senior Darien Chase, a Nebraska commit. “It’s one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had had in my life. I love my team and I love my brothers.”
Said quarterback Lincoln Victor: If there’s an emotion that wasn’t created yet, this would be the one. … To be able to start crying as soon as that last knee is taken to and to see all of that hard work pay off for pretty much 10 years or longer is so special and so surreal.”
Players celebrated and posed for photos with teammates, family and friends. Others sprawled out on the Tacoma Dome turf soaking in the experience of being a state champion. Union ends its season 14-0 one season after being bounced out of the postseason in the first round.
Not only was it a historic day for Union winning its first state title in football, but a historic day for Clark County, too. For the first time since the WIAA’s implemented a state football playoff system in 1973, two local teams won state titles in the same year.
Earlier Saturday, Hockinson repeat as 2A state champions by defeating Lynden, 42-37, and in the 4A nightcap, Union would eventually score 38 straight points while the defense shutout Lake Stevens in the second half.
“This is everything we’ve been working for,” senior Jojo Siofele said. “I’m glad I could do this with such a special team.”
Making their eighth state appearance, Union hadn’t reached this stage of a season since 2008. That year, Union was in its second year as a school and under then-coach Cale Piland won 13 straight games to meet state power Bellevue in the 3A final.
It lost 35-6, but vowed to return, said quarterback Lincoln Victor, who was an 8-year-old ballboy on that team.
Victor and his teammates — particularly the senior class — wanted to make it happen.
Or in their words, get Union back to where it belongs.
And in particular, a number of seniors stepped up Saturday.
Victor completed 19 of 24 passes for 327 yards and five touchdowns, breaking ex-Skyline quarterback Max Browne’s single-game touchdown record in a state championship game. Siofele had a career game with 10 catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 113 rushing yards and an 80-yard scoring run.
And for good measure, he also had an interception on Lake Stevens’ best scoring drive of the second half, which ended with his interception in the end zone inside 3 minutes to play. The next play came his 80-yard touchdown run. Chase had all 126 yards on five catches in the first half.
Union is the fifth straight 4A champion to complete a season undefeated. But that didn’t mean the Titans weren’t tested all season. Six wins came by a 7 or fewer points games, and this final challenge from a physical Lake Stevens squad that last won a title in 1994.
The Vikings came prepared to shutdown Union’s team speed and took early leads of 6-0, 13-7 and 20-14 as part of a first half filled with momentum-shifting drives from both sides. Lake Stevens’ last lead came on a Dallas Landeros 3-yard touchdown run with 10 minutes, 6 seconds left in the second quarter.
From there, it was all Union.
In fact, 38 points and a defense that forced two turnovers on downs, a fumble and an interception to shutout Lake Stevens in the second half. The Victor-to-Siofele connection worked for touchdowns of 23, 56 and 10 yards in addition to a 6-yard TD pass to Alex Vallejo. That made Union’s lead 45-20 with 8:36 to play.
Coach Rory Rosenbach praised his team for not only Saturday’s performance, but everything that led up to getting to the Tacoma Dome. From the winning the close games to losing assistant coach Mark Rego to cancer in Week 6.
“It would’ve been so easy for them to give up at certain points along the way,” the coach said. “They didn’t waiver; they kept trusting each other and believing.”
UNION 52, LAKE STEVENS 20
LS 13 7 0 0 -20
Uni 7 17 7 21 -52
LS — Dallas Landeros 15 run (Brock Widmann kick)
U — Darien Chase 20 pass from Lincoln Victor (Christian Alcorn kick)
LS — Kasen Kinchen 26 pass from Tre Long (Widmann kick)
U — Nile Jones 3 run (Alcorn kick)
LS — Landeros 3 run (Widmann kick)
U — Jojo Siofele 23 pass from Victor (Alcorn kick)
U — Alex Koga 34 FG
U — Siofele 56 pass from Victor (Alcorn kick)
U — Siofele 10 pass from Victor (Alcorn kick)
U — Alex Vallejo 6 pass from Victor (Alcorn kick)
U — Siofele 80 run (Alcorn kick)
RUSHING — Lake Stevens: Dallas Landeros 14-67, Tre Long 11-41, Isaiah Harris 1-10, Kasen Kinchen 1-6; Union: Jojo Siofele 5-113, Nile Jones 7-44, Lincoln Victor 8-43, Isaiah Jones 5-33.
PASSING — Lake Stevens: Tre Long 22-35-2-313; Union: Lincoln VIctor 19-24-1-327.
RECEIVING — Lake Stevens: Kasen Kinchen 9-123, Joe Gonzales 5-50, Ian Hanson 4-74, Drew Carter 2-17; Union: Jojo Siofele 10-179, Darien Chase 5-126, Alex Vallejo 2-12, Alishawuan Taylor 1-15.