The standout wide receiver rushed for five touchdowns (and threw another) was the Hawks rallied to beat the Lions 42-37.
TACOMA — When things got tough, the Hockinson football team turned to its best athlete, Sawyer Racanelli.
State football championships
Class 4A: Union 52, Lake Stevens 20
Class 3A: Eastside Catholic 31, O'Dea 13
Class 2A: Hockinson 42, Lynden 37
Class 1A: Colville 48, Newport 7
Class 2B: Kalama 34, Napavine 25
Class 1B: Odessa 63, ACH 12
And, boy, did he deliver as the Hawks backed up last season’s state title.
Racanelli, a prolific pass catcher, helped turn up the rushing attack as top-seeded Hockinson rallied from a big second-half deficit for a 42-37 victory over third-seeded Lynden in the Class 2A state championship game on Saturday afternoon at the Tacoma Dome.
Racanelli, a junior wide receiver, factored in six touchdowns as the Hawks (13-0), from the Vancouver area, forged a second-half comeback for a second week in a row to make it a state-title repeat. Racanelli ran for five TDs, threw for another and rolled up 200 all-purpose yards, including 85 yards rushing on 15 carries.
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“I think he’s the best football player in the state of Washington, I really do,” said Hockinson coach Rick Steele, who helped his program become the first back-to-back state football champions from Clark County. “When you’re a good player like that, you take over games, and that’s what he did today. He took over that game. He’s known as one of the best wide receivers in the state of Washington, but when we go to that heavy formation, he turns into a pretty good running back, too.
“He’s just a guy that can do everything.”
Hockinson, which is on a state-best 27-game win streak, took its first lead over Lynden (12-1) at 28-24 when Racanelli took a direct snap out of the Wildcat formation and scored on a 7-yard run with 10:30 left in the game.
“We kind of relied (on the rushing game) to get those yards, and it really helped,” said Racanelli, who wore jersey No. 9 instead of his customary No. 11 to pay tribute to injured fellow receiver Peyton Brammer. “I was getting bracketed with two guys and that was leaving kids one-on-one, but they also had safeties over the top so our short stuff wasn’t working as well as our run game.”
Lynden, which used a two-quarterback system, briefly regained the lead at 31-28 on James Marsh’s 10-yard run around left end with 10:05 remaining. Marsh’s score was set up by an 81-yard kickoff return by Grant Vanderyacht.
“For some reason, we like playing from behind in the playoffs,” said Steele, whose team rallied from 24-7 deficits in consecutive weeks. “We told them just don’t give up at halftime.”
Racanelli’s 1-yard TD plunge with 6:35 left gave the Hawks a 35-31 lead. After the ensuing pooch kickoff was muffed by Lynden and recovered by Niko Niehaus at the Lions’ 22-yard line, Racanelli followed with a 12-yard TD burst three plays later for a 42-31 lead with 5:05 left.
Marsh hit Brock Heppner, the team’s other quarterback, for a 23-yard TD strike with 2:42 to go in the game and the Lions were within 42-37. But Racanelli ran out the clock for Hawks with 33 yards rushing on the closing drive and a clinching first down with 59 seconds showing.
Even though Racanelli’s big day came via the ground and with his legs, the Hawks’ star became just the fifth player to catch at least 100 passes in a season in the state of Washington. Racanelli hauled in five passes for 55 yards on and finished with 101 catches.