11/29/18: The Lynden Lions practice at Civic Stadium in preparation for their 2A state championship game versus Hockinson. PHOTO: Doug Lange
Lynden Looks to Dethrone the Champs
December 1, 2018
The old saying goes: "To be the best, you have to beat the best". That's the task in front of the Lynden football squad today as they go after their 9th state championship.
It won't be easy. The 3rd ranked Lions (12-0) will square off against the No. 1 Hockinson Hawks (12-0) with a 1:00pm kick-off at the Gridiron Classic in the Tacoma Dome. The defending champion Hawks are riding a 26-game win streak. The last time they lost was back in 2016.
Lynden is coming into the title game off of a dominating performance. The Lions crushed Fife 31-0 in the semifinals last week.
"We knew coming from the Tumwater game that most of our struggles from that game was our fault and that we knew when we cleaned that up, we were gonna put it together," said junior quarterback Brock Heppner. "We're a pretty good team when we play together like that and it showed last Saturday when we came out and rolled over them."
Hockinson struggled in their semifinal before scoring 2O unanswered points to beat Liberty 27-24. The Hawks were led by their star WR Sawyer Racanelli who ran for caught a touchdown pass, threw for one TD and ran for 2 scores in the victory.
Racanelli, who is five receptions away from becoming the 5th player in state history with 100 on the year, and QB Levi Crum lead the Hawks high octane offense that averages 46.6 points per game. Crum has passed for over 35-hundred yards and 51 TD's on the season.
The Lynden defense has shown the ability to shutdown their opposition this season. The Lions are giving up just under 14 points per game. They have recorded 3 shutouts this year, including two in the postseason.
"They've got a couple of really dynamic players and we'll have them identified on each play," said Lynden head coach Blake Van Dalen. "Offensively we want to control the pace of the game, that'll be a big part of it."
On the other hand, Hockinson certainly has not faced a team lead by two equally standout quarterbacks like Heppner and senior James Marsh. The two have combined for 2,939 yards and 42 touchdowns on the ground and through the air.
"Definitely the biggest key for our team is we've gotta do our job, everyone take care of their job. As long as we do that, things should go well for us," said Marsh.
It's the first trip back to the championship game for Lynden since 2014. Van Dalen is making his first appearance in the title game as a head coach but heading to the T-Dome is nothing new for him. The 1990 Lynden graduate was an assistant coach to the late Hall of Famer Curt Kramme for 20 years and a part of 6 state championships won by the Lions between 2006 and 2013.
You can hear Lynden vs. Hockinson on The Doug Lange Network. Our coverage begins at 12:30pm.
- Doug Lange
Lynden head coach Blake Van Dalen sporting a playoff beard. PHOTO: Doug Lange
Pick your poison with the Lynden quarterbacks: Senior James Marsh (#9 left) & Junior Brock Heppner (right). PHOTOS: Doug Lange