TACOMA – Four years ago, Colville came as close to winning a State 1A championship as possible without getting it done, losing by a point in overtime to Cascade Christian.
“We were crushed. We really, really loved that group,” Indians coach Randy Cornwell said.
Watching from the stands that day at the Tacoma Dome were the younger brothers of some players.
Saturday, all grown up, those youngsters flipped the script, blowing out fellow Northwest A League member Newport 48-7 to claim fifth-seeded Colville’s first state championship. The Indians had served notice by breaking Royal’s national-best 53-game win streak in last week’s semifinal.
“A lot of these kids had older brothers on the 2014 team who were here and saw that. They wanted to come back and get it done for their brothers,” Cornwell said. “I’m so happy for our kids, so happy for our fans.”
Colville running back Jakob Larson, who led the Indians in rushing with 90 yards on 12 carries and with three receptions for 107 yards, was emphatic about what the championship meant.
“This is the most exciting moment of my life,” Larson said. “I’ve wanted this since seventh grade when we started playing with each other.”
Quarterback John Knight, who completed 7 of 12 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns, agreed.
“This group of seniors has had a brotherhood since seventh grade,” Knight said. “We’re unbreakable. I love these guys.”
Colville (11-2) caught fire and caused the mercy rule’s running clock to kick in for the final 11 minutes. Newport (11-2), which lost 28-7 to the Indians during the regular season, forced three-and-outs on Colville’s first two possessions.
“It’s a credit to them they came out and stopped a lot of things we like to do,” Cornwell said.
But once the Indians got going, they scored on seven of their next eight possessions. The only stop came on an abbreviated drive. After Colville recovered an onside kick to start the second half, Knight’s pass downfield on the first play was intercepted by Newport’s Michael Owen.
The Indians’ offense was almost evenly split between 226 yards passing and 209 yards rushing.
“We’re hard to defend,” Cornwell said. “We’ve got great receivers and running backs, a strong quarterback and our line does the job up front. You’ve got to pick your poison.”
Colville ended the scoreless tie with just less than 3 minutes left in the first quarter. A 22-yard pass from Knight to Paul Skirko and back-to-back carries of 14 and 38 yards by Grant Michaliszyn set up a quarterback sneak by Knight for the touchdown.
Colville scored again on its next possession. Taking over at their 46 after another poor punt, the Indians drove 54 yards on eight plays to score on a 1-yard run by Michaliszyn.
Before 10th-seeded Newport could get on the board, the Indians stretched their lead to 20-0 on a three-play, 58-yard drive early in the second quarter, ending with a 27-yard Larson dash for the touchdown.
The Grizzlies finally got a big-play boost when Johnny Miller ran the ensuing kickoff back 54 yards to the Colville 33. Five plays later, on third-and-goal from the 10, quarterback Adam Moorhead found Owen, who broke a tackle and dived into the end zone to briefly make it a two-score difference, 20-7.
But Colville had found its stride. The Indians drove 75 yards on nine plays, helped by a pass interference penalty, to score again before halftime, this time on a 29-yard pass from Knight to Jake Lindquist. In the second half, the Indians got the running clock going after touchdown runs by Trevor Morrison and Knight, before a 68-yard touchdown pass from Knight to Larson.