EVERETT — The defending Class 2A state champions made a emphatic statement on Archbishop Murphy’s home turf.
With television viewers from across the state tuning into the much-anticipated matchup, the high-powered juggernaut from Southwest Washington sent a message that will resonate throughout the state’s 2A football landscape.
In front of a regionally televised audience on ROOT Sports, dual-threat quarterback Levi Crum totaled 492 yards and threw six touchdown passes as second-ranked Hockinson routed the third-ranked Wildcats 42-13 in a non-league showdown of the previous two 2A state champions Thursday night at Terry Ennis Stadium.
“When we got this game on the schedule just a short time after the state championship game last year,” Hawks coach Rick Steele said, “we knew that this was going to be a game for us to find out … what kind of team we have coming back.
“We knew (Archbishop Murphy) was a good football team. … We just wanted to see how we were going to be able to compete against them. And I think we answered that tonight.”
It marked just the fourth loss in the past three seasons for Archbishop Murphy (1-1), and was the program’s worst defeat since a 63-14 loss to King’s in 2013.
“That’s a good football team — really explosive,” Wildcats coach Jerry Jensen said. “We knew that coming in. We’re a young team that needs to continue to get better.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Crum masterfully orchestrated Hockinson’s high-powered passing attack, completing 27 of 34 passes for 391 yards and six touchdowns against an Archbishop Murphy defense that allowed just four total yards against Eatonville last week.
Crum picked apart the Wildcats’ defense with pinpoint precision, showcasing a polished arsenal of quick slants, back-shoulder throws, vertical passes and more. In the first half alone, the talented junior threw for 273 yards and five touchdowns.
The speedy, elusive quarterback also burned Archbishop Murphy on the ground, rushing for 101 yards while scrambling for six runs of 15-plus yards. Several times, he escaped pressure and extended the play before tossing a perfectly placed pass downfield.
Crum is off to an impressive start to the season after replacing his cousin, Canon Racanelli, who quarterbacked the Hawks to last year’s state title while recording one of the most prolific passing seasons in state history.
“I think he made a statement to everyone watching on TV tonight that Levi Crum is a pretty darn good quarterback,” Steele said. “Canon’s off to college, and now it’s Levi’s team. And I think he let everybody know that tonight.”
HAWKS’ RECEIVERS DOMINATE
The height and athleticism of Hockinson’s talented receiving corps provided matchup problems for the Wildcats all game long.
Sawyer Racanelli, a 6-foot-3 junior with a scholarship offer from Oregon State University, caught 14 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Peyton Brammer, a 6-foot-5 junior, added six receptions for 120 yards and two scores.
“Our corners were much smaller than their (receivers), and so we knew that was going to be a struggle,” Jensen said.
Wyatt Jones and Nick Frichtl also caught touchdown passes for Hockinson, giving the Hawks (2-0) four different receivers who found the end zone. Jones made a highlight-reel play early in the second quarter when he caught a bubble-screen pass, stiff-armed two defenders and tightroped his way down the sideline for a 14-yard score.
“We just have really good athletes all over the field,” Steele said. “When defenses try to shut down one kid, we have a lot of other kids who can catch a football and run with it. … When you have those kinds of weapons, it’s really hard for a defense to shut down all of them.”
Hockinson scored a pair of touchdowns in the final minute of the first half to help turn a one-possession game into a rout.
With 49 seconds to play in the half, Racanelli hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline to extend the Hawks’ lead to 28-13.
On the ensuing play from scrimmage, with the ball on its own 35-yard line, Archbishop Murphy dialed up a trick-play double-pass with receiver Ben Malaby. The senior’s pass was underthrown and intercepted by Brammer, who returned the ball to the Wildcats’ 25.
Two plays later, Brammer caught a 25-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline to push the Hawks’ lead to 35-13, and the rout was on. Hockinson found the end zone on all four of its second-quarter drives.
“I think the youth showed a little bit,” said Jensen, whose team has just eight seniors. “In that second quarter, we made some mistakes and they capitalized on it and kind of created some separation.”
Archbishop Murphy running back and safety Josiah Santiago suffered a broken collarbone, according to Jensen. The two-way junior left the field in visible pain and didn’t return after being injured on a carry during the Wildcats’ second offensive series.
Santiago rushed six times for 67 yards before the injury, including runs of 23 and 37 yards on the game’s opening drive to help set up an Archbishop Murphy field goal.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
This was the second year in a row that ROOT Sports televised an Archbishop Murphy regular-season home game. Last year, the Wildcats opened their season on the network with a 37-18 home win over eventual 3A state semifinalist Garfield.
The television timeouts, along with the high number of pass attempts and numerous penalties, resulted in Thursday night’s game lasting nearly three hours.
Archbishop Murphy has another tough non-league test next Friday night at 3A fifth-ranked Rainier Beach, which advanced to its classification’s state championship game last season.