Taking a look at the latest Associated Press 1A football poll shows all the usual suspects. The Royal Knights are riding on the third-longest winning streak in the country, according to MaxPreps, so it’s a no-brainer that they lead the Class 1A voting.
For the time being it’s Royal City and the also-rans with Montesano, Zillah, Lynden Christian and Connell in the top five. Meridian, whom the Knights beat for their third consecutive 1A state title last year, is hovering about at No. 6.
The three-time defending state champions have bulldozed their way to a 5-0 record going into Friday’s SCAC East showdown at home with Connell. Connell sits fifth in the poll and from what I’ve seen over the past couple of years, the shootout at David Nielsen Stadium should be another one for the record books.
Friday Night Lights on the Royal Slope, come early, stay late and be ready to see two of the best football teams in Washington state collide on yet another confrontation for the ages.
Wahluke junior Tanu Buck ran with the lead pack for as long as he could, finishing in the top five of SCAC No. 1 meet with Granger, Highland and Royal.
Riverside Christian freshman Isaac Immel won the 5,000-meter race at Granger in 18 minutes, 48.3 minutes. Buck was fifth overall in 19:14.5 with a solid performance in the 50-runner field.
The Warriors also had solid performances from Jose Barbosa (23:41.2), Jael Perez (23:50.6) and Andy Martinez (23:50.6), who finished in a nice pack in 28, 29 and 30th, respectively.
Royal didn’t have a guy in the top five, but proved that pack time is better than individual performance, winning the meet with 35 points. Knights freshman Fernando Alvarado led the wave of black across the finish line and Royal finished 7 through 12 to seal the deal. Alvarado clocked 19:44.0 to finish seventh. He was followed by Jozaki Shunsuke (20:00.4), Miguel Villafana (20:03.5), Yahir Morales (20:06.1), Rudy Flores (20:29.3) and Martin Horta (20:43.3).
In the girls’ meet, Royal had 13 of the 18 runners in the field. So why not march to the beat of their own drummer. The Knights pushed across the first six runners, posting a perfect score of 15 in what was little more than a training exercise. There was little doubt there was that competitive spirit, racing against familiar teammates or not.
Senior Abigail Delay led the way, winning in 22:38.8. Sydney Gilbert (22:40.1) was second, followed by Aliyah Finch (24:407), Sydney Burke (24:56.1), and Ana Villafana (25:21.7), who made up the scoring five. Amanda Justo-Victoriano (27:39.1) made it an even half dozen Knights before anyone else finished. Wahluke’s Karen Arellano (28:04.8) and Roslyn Aguilar (33:08.9) led the Warriors.
The Royal girls proved good things come to those who work for it, upending defending SCAC East champion Kiona-Benton in a shootout. Chenoa Louie was the star of the game. She came up to take a free kick that tied the match, then made the big save in the shootout to give the Knights a 2-1 win in the major upset of the season.
Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and writes a weekly column for the Sun Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com