LAKEWOOD — For the fourth time in five seasons, the Royal Knights are the Class 1A state football champions.
Arguably, at no time during that run was a championship more difficult than it was for the top-ranked Knights (14-0) on Saturday. Royal saw a 12-point, fourth-quarter lead over No. 7 Lynden Christian (11-2) evaporate only to retake the lead and hang on for a 26-22 win.
“That was a hard-fought victory, I’ll tell you that,” Royal coach Wiley Allred said. “It was just a heck of a game. I’m happy to come out on top.”
The Knights were seemingly in control with less than 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter with a 19-7 lead. The Lyncs cut the deficit to five when senior Jackson Corkill hauled in a 79-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Trajan Schouten.
Lynden Christian forced the Knights to punt on their next possession, and things went from bad to worse for the Knights when the ball was snapped over the punter’s head. The Lyncs recovered on the Royal 18-yard line needing a touchdown to take their first lead.
That touchdown came on the next play when junior Cole Moorlag hauled in an 18-yard pass from Schouten in the back corner of the end zone. After the two-point conversion, the Lyncs led 22-19.
The Lyncs seemed poised to pull of the upset, but as quickly as they took the lead, they saw it disappear. On the Knights’ next offensive play, junior Aldo Farias caught a wide-open 74-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Caleb Christensen to take a 26-22 lead with 2:55 remaining. The play proved to be the game-winner.
“I had a feeling I was going to get open,” Farias said. “They were kind of sitting down on the route. I just kind of ran it in.”
Of all the championships the Knights have won, Allred said he had never been a part of an ending quite like that.
“We hung on two years ago against a Meridian team with a great quarterback (Tamir Hill) that’s at Eastern Washington now,” Allred said. “We’ve never lost the lead with three minutes (left in the game) and had to do something like this.”
Despite the disappointing loss, Lynden Christian coach Dan Kaemingk was proud of his team’s effort.
“That’s a good team over there, and they come in with quite a pedigree and quite an aura about them,” Kaemingk said. “To get down 19-7 and for our kids to come back like that, they treated a lot of people to a really good high-school football game. We did not come out on the top of it, but I could not be prouder of our kids.”