High School Football

They’ve won 40 straight games and the last two 1A titles; will Meridian end their reign?

Royal’s Alonso Hernandez, left, and Meridian’s Simon Burkett lead the Knights and Trojans into the Class 1A state championship game Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
Royal’s Alonso Hernandez, left, and Meridian’s Simon Burkett lead the Knights and Trojans into the Class 1A state championship game Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Rodney Harwood / Columbia Basin Herald (left) and Evan Abell / The Bellingham Herald

Class 1A State Football Championship Game Royal (13-0) at Meridian (13-0)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Site: Tacoma Dome

Tickets: $17, $13 adults and seniors

Online streaming: nfhsnetwork.com/washington/football

Previous state playoff meetings: Meridian won a 2006 semifinal 13-7.

SCOUTING THE KNIGHTS

Coach: Wiley Allred (24th season)

Seed: Yakima Valley No. 2

State appearances (last): 28th (2016)

State playoff record: 53-20

Championship game appearances (last): 11 (2016)

State titles: 1996, 2000, ’04, ’05, ’07, ’15, ’16

1201 Meridian defense (2)

Royal offense: The Knights have been nearly unstoppable, rolling to 51.0 points per game. Only once – in a 24-21 victory over Connell – did they score fewer than five touchdowns. They’ve averaged 356.5 yards of total offense per game, even thought they’ve likely shut things down in the second half most every game. Quarterback Sawyer Jenks is hitting 61.57 percent of his passes (133 of 216) and has thrown for 2,610 yards and 38 touchdowns while only being intercepted four times. His top target is Corbin Christensen (52 catches, 1,070 yards, 16 TDs), whom Connell coach Wayne Riner said, “might be the best WR in the state.” Running back Alonso Hernandez (157 carries, 111 yards, 16 TDs) provides good balance for the Knights. They have plenty of big-play ability and good size up front that Meridian coach Bob Ames said is athletic.

Royal defense: As good as the Knights have been offensively, they’ve perhaps been even more impressive on defense. They did not allow a touchdown the first six games of the season, and the first one they gave up was on a kickoff return against Connell, which later added a couple of offensive scores. Other than Connell, nobody has managed to score more than a touchdown, and they’ve posted eight shutouts, including against Freeman and Okanogan in the first two rounds of the state playoffs. Hernandez leads the way with 74 total tackles, two sacks and two interceptions. Christensen’s play in the secondary also is something to watch, and he has five interceptions. Logan Gomez-Rios is a run stuffer on the defensive line and leads a front seven that knows how to get after the quarterback.

2017 STAT LEADERS

PASSING

Cmp.

Att.

Yards

TD

Int.

Sawyer Jenks

133

216

2,610

38

4

RUSHING

Att.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Alonso Hernandez

157

1,111

7.1

16

Lorenzo Myrick

76

694

9.1

12

Tucker Janett

16

155

9.7

4

RECEIVING

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Corbin Christensen

52

1,070

20.6

16

Angel Farias Ramos

28

640

22.9

7

Isaac Ellis

16

336

21.0

7

Carlos Quintero

17

319

18.8

4

2017 RESULTS

Date

Opponent

Result

Sept. 1

at Ellensburg

W 42-0

Sept. 11

Othello

W 35-0

Sept. 15

at Warden*

W 61-3

Sept. 22

College Place*

W 74-0

Sept. 29

Wahluke*

W 69-0

Oct. 6

at Kiona-Benton*

W 49-0

Oct. 13

Connell*

W 24-21

Oct. 20

at Burbank Columbia*

W 67-7

Oct. 27

River Views*

W 75-0

DISTRICT PLAYOFFS

Nov. 3

La Salle

W 48-7

STATE PLAYOFFS

Nov. 10

Freeman

W 35-0

Nov. 18

Okanogan

W 49-0

Nov. 25

Newport

W 35-7

*SCAC game

SCOUTING THE TROJANS

Coach: Bob Ames (44th season)

Seed: Northwest District No. 1

State appearances (last): 24th (2016)

State playoff record: 33-20

Championship game appearances (last): Five (2006)

State titles: Three (1999, 2003, ’06)

1201 Meridian offense (2)

Meridian offense: While they may not have put up as many points consistently as Royal has this year, the Trojans are plenty capable of lighting up the scoreboard – at least when it’s working, unlike last week at Civic Stadium. They’ve averaged 39.2 points per game. The offense goes as Eastern Washington-bound quarterback Simon Burkett goes. He’s passed for 3,563 yards and 43 touchdowns this season and leads the team with 583 yards and 10 TDs rushing. He has been intercepted 11 times this year, but has a very talented receiving corps that allows him to take chances. Bryce Vandenhaak leads the way with 1,359 yards and 19 TDs receiving, though Lukas Hemenway, Tony Schleimer, Dawson Logan and TJ Dykstra all bring valuable skills to the group. Vandenhaak and Cole Roberts are both capable ball carriers, and the line is led by Adam Kruzich.

Meridian defense: After allowing 24.5 points per game during the regular season, the Trojans have clamped down defensively in their four playoff games, when they’ve allowed 11.3 per game. That number is even more impressive when you consider the first-team defense has allowed only half of the six touchdowns Meridian has surrendered in the playoffs – two others came on pick-6s and a third came on the final play of regulation against second- and third-teamers. Linebacker Manny Sabalza is the catalyst, showing great determination to cover from sideline to sideline, while Dylan Hickok and Tony Schleimer complete a strong linebacking crew. Kruzich, Baker Otter and Treover Pagnossin have made things tough on opposing quarterbacks and running backs, while Meridian has plenty of talented athletes in the secondary, led by Hemenway (5 interceptions) and Logan and Vandenhaak (4 interceptions each).

2017 STAT LEADERS

PASSING

Cmp.

Att.

Yards

TD

Int.

Simon Burkett

213

358

3,563

43

11

RUSHING

Att.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Simon Burkett

121

583

4.8

10

Bryce Vandenhaak

105

541

5.2

6

Cole Roberts

126

524

4.2

6

RECEIVING

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Bryce Vandenhaak

54

1,359

25.2

19

Lukas Hemenway

40

647

16.2

6

Tony Schleimer

29

423

14.6

5

Dawson Logan

20

335

16.8

5

TJ Dykstra

22

306

13.9

5

2017 RESULTS

Date

Opponent

Result

Sept. 1

at Anacortes

W 20-14

Sept. 8

at Blaine

W 50-44

Sept. 15

Cascade Christian

W 34-29

Sept. 22

at Lynden Christian*

W 28-7

Sept. 29

Nooksack Valley*

W 50-36

Oct. 6

Mount Baker*

W 26-15

Oct. 13

Lynden Christian*

W 33-20

Oct. 20

at Nooksack Valley*

W 28-27

Oct. 27

at Mount Baker*

W 52-29

DISTRICT PLAYOFFS

Nov. 3

Bothell Cedar Park Christian

W 63-3

STATE PLAYOFFS

Nov. 11

Hoquiam

W 63-21

Nov. 18

Montesano

W 28-7

Nov. 25

La Center

W 34-14

*1A NWC game

2017 Football State Championships 1A State Football

Key to the game: The two-time defending state champs are the real deal, according to Riner, who called Royal, “as good as any team I’ve faced in 25 years of coaching other than Pullman in 2006.” But don’t count out Ames and his pack of “pound puppies,” who have shown great heart and grit all season long and are hungry for their first state title since 2006. If Meridian can force Royal to make some mistakes, the Trojans could emerge with their fourth title.

Prediction: Royal 35-14

CLASS 1A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS

Year

Winner

Loser

Score

1973

Raymond

Connell

35-6

1974

Raymond

Cle Elum-Roslyn

19-8

1975

Raymond

Winlock

20-7

1976

Winlock

Orting

23-6

1977

Chewelah

Winlock

20-0

1978

Blaine

Granger

20-7

1979

Omak

Langley

7-6

1980

Lynden

Burbank Columbia

19-14

1981

Colfax

Montesano

6-0

1982

North Mason

Woodland

28-14

1983

Montesano

Riverside

35-27

1984

Cashmere

Meridian

32-7

1985

Eatonville

Cashmere

14-0

1986

Ephrata

Lynden Christian

32-15

1987

Ephrata

Lynden

21-12

1988

Castle Rock

Ephrata

23-20

1989

Toppenish

Charles Wright

31-16

1990

Eatonville

Ephrata

10-6

1991

Lynden

Medical Lake

34-14

1992

Eatonville

Zillah

26-23

1993

Riverside

Lynden Christian

17-14 (OT)

1994

Montesano

Royal

27-21

1995

Ridgefield

Leavenworth Cascade

44-30

1996

Royal

Toledo

70-0

1997

Lynden Christian

Colfax

22-20

1998

Kalama

Okanogan

14-6

1999

Okanogan

Kalama

28-0

2000

Royal

Tacoma Baptist

49-17

2001

Colfax

Tacoma Baptist

49-7

2002

Archbishop Murphy

Royal

35-14

2003

Archbishop Murphy

Zillah

20-0

2004

Royal

Freeman

29-7

2005

Royal

Tonasket

34-14

2006

Meridian

Connell

27-22

2007

Royal

Connell

28-16

2008

Cashmere

Cascade Christian

10-9

2009

Connell

Cascade Christian

28-7

2010

Cascade Christian

Connell

42-35

2011

Connell

Cascade Christian

28-7

2012

Montesano

Royal

43-28

2013

Freeman

Mount Baker

31-13

2014

Cascade Christian

Colville

27-26

2015

Royal

King’s

28-7

2016

Royal

Connell

25-10

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