Sawyer Racanelli scores on a 48-yard reverse to seal the deal for the Hawks, who won 35-22.

Share story

TACOMA — Clinging to a five-point lead and in possession of the football with just over three minutes left in the game, Hockinson offensive coordinator Josh Racanelli knew it was time.

So, did the Hawks coach Rick Steele. He got a little tingling feeling inside. That’s what happens when Racanelli calls for Second-Man, Z-Reverse.

Sophomore receiver Sawyer Racanelli, son of the offensive coordinator, executed the plan to perfection on the reverse, jetting 48 yards for a touchdown, and unheralded Hockinson slammed the door on Tumwater for a 35-22 victory on Saturday morning in the Class 2A state-championship game in the Tacoma Dome.

“It’s crazy because talked the entire game, starting in the first quarter, about running that play and we were trying to set that play up,” Sawyer Racanelli said after hauling in 12 passes for 135 yards and two TDs. “Catching touchdowns is fun, but running touchdowns is super fun too. It was set up perfectly and we just talked about it being there the entire game. Eventually we ran it.”

Most Read Sports Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Racanelli, who has 27 receiving TDs this season, which ranks fourth in state history, turned the corner on the reverse and found another gear to step away and give the Hawks (14-0) a 28-16 cushion with 2:58 to play in the game.

It’s hard to fathom that the Hawks’ biggest offensive play of the game came via the run as it’s a team with a spread offense that primarily avoids it. It came with some trickery as quarterback Canon Racanelli handed off to Matt Henry going right and Henry tossed to Sawyer Racanelli, who was behind him headed left. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound receiver turned the corner with a head of steam and weaved through traffic to find the zone.

“I told (Canon) at the beginning of the year every game could be our last game once we get past the ninth game,” Sawyer Racanelli said. “And so finishing on top, always playing younger ball and winning championships together, this is by far the best one.”

Said Steele: “We knew if we could get ahead a ways, they can’t score too quick moving that ball three or four yards a pop.”

Just 46 seconds later Aidan Mallory stepped in front of a pass from T-birds’quarterback Elias Polito in the left flat and went untouched for a 44-yard interception return for touchdown. Mallory’s score helped hike the Hawks’ lead to 35-16 with 2:12 remaining.

Canon Racanelli, Sawyer’s older brother, came up big in Hockinson’s first appearance in a state championship in a team sport. The Hawks signal-caller delivered state Class 2A Gridiron Classic records for passes completed and attempted, going 27 of 45 for 316 yards and three TDs.

“It’s huge when you’ve got 10 dudes who can catch passes and make plays,” Canon Racanelli said. “There’s not a whole lot of teams like that. We’ve really got a lot of people that can make plays. That’s why we won it.”

After the Hawks’ lead grew to 19 points on Mallory’s interception return, Tumwater (11-3) kept fighting. The T-birds’ Jakob Holbrook polished off a 53-yard scoring drive with a 6-yard TD run around left end with 1:27 to go in the game, but Tumwater couldn’t recover the onside-kick attempt.

That recovery meant that first-year T-birds coach Bill Beattie, coaching in his first state-title game, would not come out on top as the Hawks ran out the clock. Beattie followed longtime coach Sid Otton, Washington state’s all-time leader in wins (394) who retired after the 2016 season with five titles at Tumwater and six overall.

“We hadn’t had a lot of adversity this season, but we knew coming into this game we were going to face a lot of adversity playing Tumwater,” Sawyer Racanelli said after finishing the season with 1,766 yards receiving for the fifth-best total in state history for a season. “We had to concentrate on what was happening and put up points on the scoreboard.”