MOSES LAKE - I canít tell you how many times Iíve walked the sidelines at a Royal Knights football game thinking to myself, ďThese guys could beat the Seahawks.Ē
OK fine, but letís not let the facts get in the way of a good story. They went into the 1A state tournament as the three-time champions with the second-longest active winning streak in the nation. By the time they hit the quarterfinals (Mt. Baker) that 53-game streak became tied for the longest consecutive winning streak in the country. Kudos to Knights football, but maybe even more so, kudos to Hall of Fame coach Wiley Allred for keeping his kids in check, focused on the prize - the very next game.
Knights Booster Club president Aaron Christensen said something I thought was important when the streak hit 50, ďThey didnít set out to win 50 in a row. I donít think they set out to win 15 in a row. They just go out and try to win the next game.Ē
Iím going to cut it off right there because he drifted off into that one-game at a time speel that we all hate. But I will have to say itís pretty cool for guys like me to go on and on and on about. Every time I did you could just hear the hairs on the back of Wileyís neck stand on end, like dragginí a shovel across concrete. But hey, thatís why I make the big money and heís just a Hall of Famer.
But Iíll tell ya what, standing there in Lions Field on Saturday, you could see it coming. Not the loss, but the game when itís game on. It started with the announcing of the players. When the stadium announcer called Andres Encisoís name because thereís two No. 50s on the roster, 5-foot-7, 205-pound senior Javier Huitron didnít even budge. Then came his name, No. 50 Javier Huitron, and he jogged out onto the field like heíd been waiting all his life for the moment.
Enough with announcing, letís strap it on. It was like sitting up stream from Niagara Falls, you could hear the rumble as they lined up for the opening kick off. Weíre in for something good.
And it was on.
No. 5 Coleville (10-2) came in knowing they were going up against one of the hottest teams in all of Washington state football. Even when they got knocked to the canvas early with a 74-yard touchdown from Sawyer Jenks to Angel Farias, they got back up. The rumbling got louder and louder when it went back and forth to 14-14 at the half. Like Rocky Balboa, Colville just kept waving for Apollo Creed to bring it.
As much as you might want to point a finger at a spot on a crucial fourth-down spot or a questionable call on something that could have been called all day long, the fact is the Knights (12-1) turned the ball over four times, gave up a kick return to the house and had a chance to stuff the Indians with a defense that gave up just 2.6 points a game going in.
Give it up to the Tribe. They not only knocked out the defending champions. In the quarterfinals, they took out last yearís state runner-up (Meridian), that took Royal to the final play of the game in last yearís 1A title game in the Dome.
The thing Iím most impressed with is not only how the Knights win with dignity, but how they can also lose with dignity Ö and their ainít been a lot of losiní on the Royal Slope lately. Donít get used to it because the new streak starts next year with Game 1.
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