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Friday Night Flashback: Hockinson pounded out a second straight state title in 2018

Racanelli's five touchdown runs set a record in a 2A state title game

By , Columbian sports reporter
Published:
3 Photos
Hockinson's Sawyer Racanelli (9) celebrates a touchdown during the 2A state football championship game against Lynden on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Tacoma, Wash.
Hockinson's Sawyer Racanelli (9) celebrates a touchdown during the 2A state football championship game against Lynden on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Tacoma, Wash. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Sawyer Racanelli is known statewide for what he accomplished as a receiver. A two-time 2A state player of the year, the Hockinson star hauled in more than 200 passes for 4,000 yards in an injury-shortened prep career.

But Racanelli also boasts another record, a more surprising mark: Racanelli scored the most rushing touchdowns in a 2A state championship game when his five scoring totes against Lynden in 2018 led the Hawks to a 42-37 comeback victory and second state title.

“You take what you know of that kid and then you see that record, it just doesn’t fit,” longtime Hockinson coach Rick Steele said. “Those types of players take over games. He took over that game.”

After falling behind 24-7 in the third quarter, Racanelli scored on runs of 4, 3, 7, 1 and 12 yards as the Hawks operated out of a wildcat formation they call “heavy.”

“I knew I just had to get us inside the 20-yard line, then we’d give it to our best player,” quarterback Levi Crum said. “That’s a good feeling knowing you’re going to give him the ball and he’s going to score touchdowns.”

The style was vastly different than what Hockinson built its offense around for several years. They were a spread team that liked to toss the ball all over the field to future Division I athletes in Racanelli and Peyton Brammer. But Brammer broke his foot two weeks before the championship game and Lynden was double- or triple-teaming Racanelli on every play.

The Hockinson coaching staff decided to dust off the old “heavy” and pound the rock.

“It’s always been there,” Steele said of the package. “We always had the ability to run the football; it just wasn’t quite what we wanted to do.”

Lynden never adjusted to the run-heavy approach and the Hawks didn’t mind sticking to what worked. Racanelli finished with 167 yards (85 rushing, 55 receiving, 27 passing) and six touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving). Crum added 86 yards rushing and 160 passing, including an 11-yard TD toss in the second quarter.

Both Steele and Crum applauded the work of the offensive line on that Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. The team entered the year coming off a state title with two starters departing the offensive line and a new quarterback. The Hawks never missed a step.

They extended their win streak to 27 games, pounded the opposition by an average of 36 points per game in the regular season and came from behind in the final three playoff games (35-28 over Steilacoom, 27-24 over Liberty, and 42-37 over Lynden) to lift the program’s second championship trophy.

“It was unbelievable. You couldn’t ask for a better team, honestly,” Crum said. “There were definitely some good memories and something I’ll always look back on.”

With Brammer and Racanelli injured for the following year’s postseason, Hockinson fell 55-7 in the semifinals to eventual champion Tumwater.

Still, the Hawks established themselves as one of the top 2A programs in the state.

“When we started this thing 16 years ago, we wanted to be like those teams,” said Steele, noting the sustained success of Tumwater, Archbishop Murphy and Lynden — all teams Hockinson beat during the two-year title run. “Those are the types of programs you model your program after. So it was nice for our players, but it was nice for our coaching staff too. We worked really hard to get our program to that level.”

Original game story

The Hawk circle up to pump each other up before the 2A state football championship game against Lynden on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Tacoma, Wash.
Hockinson beats Lynden 42-37, repeats as 2A football state champions
Hawks rally in 2nd half to win second straight title
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