MOSES LAKE — Royal traveled to Lions Field in Moses Lake and took care of business, defeating Connell 42-0 to advance to the 1A State championship.
The Knights, unbeaten this season, opened up their scoring in the semifinal in what's becoming traditional fashion as Caleb Christensen connected with Cooper Christensen for the 14-yard score to go up 7-0 in the first quarter.
Both teams would trade turnovers as the lead stayed at just a touchdown heading into the second quarter. Royal was able to strike on the first play of the quarter, as Caleb and Cooper connected again on a 26-yard touchdown pass.
Derek Bergeson added to the Knights' lead just moments later with a pick-6 to put the top seed up 21-0 less than two minutes into the quarter. Cooper Christensen's interception would give the Knights the ball back before he caught his third touchdown of the half, a 46-yard pass from Caleb Christensen.
With under a minute to play in the half, the Royal quarterback would rush in from near the goal line to put the Knights ahead 35-0 going into the second half. Caleb Christensen connected with Tyler Allred on fourth down for the score in the third quarter to cap off the 42-0 victory and berth in the State title game.
Caleb Christensen finished with 233 yards through the air, with four passing touchdowns and one interception; he added a touchdown on the ground in the victory as well.
Lorenzo Myrick led the Knights with 77 yards on the ground, while Avery Ellis was close behind with 75 yards himself. Cooper Christensen led the Royal receivers with four catches for 117 yards and three scores.
The Knights finished with 391 yards of total offense in the win, while holding Connell to just 72 yards in the matchup.
Cooper Christensen summed up his emotion after the win with one word, excitement.
“We all remember last year, we were all part of that team, so just coming to secure the win is what we came for and we got it,” he said.
Making it back to this stage is a testament to the work this group has put in since last season, Cooper Christensen said.
Picking up another dominant win on Saturday, Royal was again able to pick up valuable playing time for some of the younger players on the team.
“It's a really good experience,” Caleb Christensen said. “It's really a good thing to come in and play in these meaningful games, even if it's just a couple of snaps.”
With so many new faces filling into the Royal lineup to begin the season, head coach Wiley Allred said it's an awesome feeling seeing this team reach the level it has this fall.
“Starting out, we weren't really sure how it'd go, but fairly early on in the season I could see, man these guys are probably better off than I thought and that's on our kids,” he said. “And their focus has ben awesome and their dedication has been great, and it's been a joy to coach them as well.”
Wiley Allred said it's been rewarding as a coach to see the improvement and focus of his players this season. When asked if the experience of making it to this level in the past helps him better prepare each time, the Royal head coach said simply, “I hope so.”
“I think there's a lot of good coaches that build off any experiences they have,” Wiley Allred said. “I think the kids understand and they trust what we're saying.”
The Knights will look to add their trophy case next Saturday, noon, at Harry E. Lang Stadium in Lakewood when they face Lynden Christian for the 1A State Championship.