ROYAL — The three-time 1A state champions don’t look much past the next opponent, and coach Wiley Allred, who will be inducted into the Washington State Football Coaches Hall of Fame this year, isn’t about to mess with the mojo anytime soon.
The No. 1-ranked Royal Knights commitment to excellence has gotten them to this point, but it’s their humility and spirit of the underdog that keeps them on top as they go in pursuit of a fourth consecutive state title during Friday night’s 1A Round of 16 game against Riverside (Chattaroy) at David Nielsen Stadium.
The Knights (10-0) go in on a 51-game winning streak, which dates back to Sept. 4, 2015, but the No. 16 Rams (7-4) roll onto the Royal Slope, having won three of their last four, including a 26-14 win over Omak.
“It’s not any different than last year, but the matchups are going to be different with teams we’ve never seen before. We played Riverside a few years ago, but these kids have never seen them,” Allred said. “Riverside is gritty and tough and we have to be the same.
“They’re quick, their fast and we need to get a lot of hats on the ball and shut them down before they have a chance to get outside.”
The Rams have the ability to sling it around a little bit with quarterback Parker Gallinger, a 6-foot, 165-pound sophomore, and receiver Thaddeus Trepanier a 5-11 senior wide receiver.
“(Trepanier) is an athletic kid, also plays quarterback,” Allred said. “They also have good running back (Michael Zononi, 6-foot, 195-pound senior).
“They have a talented group of running backs. Omak definitely learned a hard lesson on Saturday and we need to be prepared for them.”
The Knights will be without the services of linebacker Carter Dorsing (ankle), but go into the tournament in pretty good health. The defense has shutout 7-of-10 teams this season, led by a front seven that includes senior Logan Gomez (6-0, 240 pounds), Michael Perez (5-11, 240), Javier Huitron (5-7, 205) and linebackers Jack Diaz (6-0, 205), who’s had two scoop-and-scores, and Alonso Hernandez, who is a Week 10 WIAA Athlete of the Week for his efforts running the ball against Naches Valley last week.
“I think controlling the line of scrimmage is going to be critical on both sides of the ball this week,” Allred said. “The have a big offensive line and we have to be able to deal with that.”
It’s a new week, different opponent, but the Knights are coming off a 78-3 victory where they scored on every possession of the first quarter against Naches Valley, no matter who had the ball. Hernandez scored five rushing touchdowns in the first quarter alone. The defense produced three scores of its own with Diaz’s fumble recovery for a touchdown along with pick-6 returns by Owen Ellis and Lorenzo Myrick.
Aldo Farias tied a school record with a 97-yard kickoff return, place kicker Osvaldo Guerrero scored 10 points on extra points and the reserves turned in the final score of the night on a safety. Throw in the fact that Royal punt return man Angel Farias, who scored on a 54-yard pass play, can go the distance from anywhere on the field, and the Knights can score with almost every unit it puts on the field.
With that being said, Royal, just the second team in 1A history to win three consecutive state championships (Raymond, 1973-73-75), goes in pursuit of yet another state title on Friday night when it hosts Riverside in the Round of 16. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.