Our Voice: Chiawana carries amazing season all the way to state

Best of luck to Chiawana High School at the state 4A football championship game against Camas on Saturday.

But we're not sure if the Pasco school will need luck. We like the Riverhawks' chances against the top-ranked and unbeaten Papermakers when they meet at 7:30 in the Tacoma Dome. And that's more than our relentless parochialism talking.

Chiawana proved itself formidable in a 12-1 season, averaging 7.84 yards per play on offense, and leading the Mid-Columbia Conference with 2,497 passing yards and rushing for more than 2,000 yards during its first 10 games.

Running back Clifton Lozano led the MCC in rushing (1,436 yards, 19 touchdowns), and the team's star receiver, Deion Singleton, was second in receptions (36 catches, 774 yards, five touchdowns), while quarterback Joey Zamora was second in passing (1,974 yards), throwing for 18 touchdowns with just four interceptions.

The Riverhawks' defense was equally impressive, holding teams to 16.6 points per game. Opponents averaged just 73.5 rushing yards and 140.1 passing yards a game at a rate of 4.01 yards per play.

It's the first trip to state for Chiawana and Camas, but the Riverhawks bring some big-game experience to Tacoma.

Singleton, a transfer from Florida, was a junior defensive back for the Godby Cougars last year when they won the Class 5A state football championship.

This season, Singleton is the Mid-Columbia Conference's most valuable player and playing in his second state championship, albeit a different state.

But that's nothing compared with Chiawana head coach Steve Graff's wealth of experience. Graff won three Class 4A state titles with Pasco in 1998, 2000 and 2003. Most of the assistant coaches who helped earn those titles moved to Chiawana with Graff.

Those Bulldog teams triumphed in post-season play. In 1998, Pasco outscored teams 103-29 during its playoff run. In 2000, it was 116-30, and in 2003 the Bulldogs were only slightly less impressive, beating playoff opponents 92-33.

The Riverhawks seem ready to repeat history. They beat Federal Way 40-7 last week in a game that wasn't expected to be so lopsided. The Eagles averaged more than 350 rushing yards in three playoff games before Chiawana held them to just 88 yards.

Federal Way's normally high-scoring offense, which averaged 38.3 points a game this year, was held scoreless for the first time this season. The Eagles' defense scored the lone touchdown.

Another Riverhawks' victory Saturday would be the perfect cap to a remarkable run, but it's already a winning season that everyone involved should take pride in.