ROYAL CITY — The three-time 1A state champion Royal Knights exploded off of the launching pad in their 78-3 victory over Naches Valley in the SCAC Crossover Playoff game.
Alonso Hernandez rushed for all five of his touchdowns in the first 12 minutes. The Knights defense got in on the scoring action with an 18-yard scoop-and-score by Jack Diaz and two first-half Pick 6’s by Owen Ellis and Lorenzo Myrick.
If that wasn’t enough to keep the Knights faithful on their feet, Aldo Farias took the kickoff to open the second half 97 yards for a touchdown, tying a school record, and the three-time defending 1A state champions produced their most dominant victory of the season.
Even though they were beat down, knocked down, propped up in the corner and beat on some more, the Rangers (3-7) did something just two of the Knights’ previous 10 opponents could do – score on a defense that set a SCAC East record by shutting out all six opponents.
Naches Valley coach Ty Kime quickly called timeout with three seconds remaining in the third quarter so his placekicker could take advantage of the hard blowing, easterly wind. Nick Mueller knocked down a 44-yard field goal that even drew applause from the Royal staff.
“We’re going to score a hundred now,” the Royal coach said, tongue-in-cheek, drawing chuckles up and down the bench.
Other than that, it was Royal (10-0) all Knight long. It’s hard to say which was more impressive, they scored in all three facets of the game. Hernandez scored on touchdown runs of 21, 8, 12, 25 and 7 in the first quarter alone. Sawyer Jenks connected with Angel Farias on a 54-yard touchdown pass.
The Royal defense scored three times in the first quarter. That’s right, Hernandez scored five rushing touchdowns and the defense returned a fumble recovery and two pass interceptions, all in the first 12 minutes, to make it 56-0 after one quarter.
“With the wind picking up like it was, I knew I’d be involved in the run game. I wasn’t too worried about doing anything, but playing hard,” said Hernandez, who finished with 106 yards on seven carries. “Our defense was big with the fumble recovery and the picks. It was a good night.”
The defense held Naches Valley to just six total yards and one first down, which came late on a fourth-down conversion. The Rangers connected on one 10-yard pass to counter minus-4 yards rushing.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had three touchdowns on defense, but it was total domination,” cornerback Angle Farias said. “This year’s been fun, it’s all family.”
The Royal offense scored at will. Throw in the defensive scores and the Knights led 70-0 at the half, then Aldo Farias took the opening kickoff to start the second half 97 yards to the house. If that wasn’t enough, the defensive reserves produced a safety when Avery Ellis made the tackle in the end zone to end the third quarter.
“We just wanted to execute early and get the young guys in late,” quarterback Sawyer Jenks said. “The offensive line was great. The first three plays we ran tonight went for 15 yards a pop, you can’t ask for much more than that. It’s kind of fun seeing the younger guys play like they did tonight.”
The Knights will go into the 1A state tournament Round of 16 as the No. 1 seed and host No. 16 Riverside on Friday at David Nielsen Stadium.
Naches 0 0 3 0 – 3
Royal 56 14 8 0 – 78
R – Alonso Hernández 21 run (Osvaldo Guerrero)
R – Jack Diaz 18 fumble recovery (Guerrero)
R – Hernandez 8 run (Guerrero)
R – Hernández 12 run (Guerrero)
R – Owen Ellis 25 pass interception (Guerrero)
R – Hernández 25 run (Guerrero)
R – Hernandez 7 run (Guerrero)
R – Lorenzo Myrick 31 pass interception (Guerrero)
R – Angel Farias 54 pass from Sawyer Jenks (Guerrero)
R – Myrick 7 run (Guerrero)
R – Aldo Farias 97 kick return (Guerrero)
NV – Nick Mueller 44 field goal
R – Ellis Avery, safety