Royal preparing to win another 1A state championship

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ROYAL — The road to the state football championship goes through the three-time state champion Royal Knights (41), who roll into the 2018 season on the nation’s sixth longest winning streak, coming off their third consecutive 1A state championship. Take a good look now while the South Central Athletic Conference East standings read zero’s across the board and the teams are listed in alphabetical order, because that’s the furthest down the list the Knights, who have not lost since the 2014 state quarterfinals, will be. Washington Coaches Association Hall of Fame coach Wiley Allred tells his guys every year, “We’re not trying to repeat, we’re just trying to win a state championship.” They’ve bought in and this year’s team is preparing to win the final game of the season. The challenge every year is to establish an identity with the current chess pieces, Allred said. “Every year we search for excellence and every year the kids have something to prove,” said Allred, who was the Don Shula high school coaches award national runner-up in 2017. “The kids work really hard to be their best, which is something we strive for every year.” They lose 17 seniors, including SCAC player of the year Corbin Christensen, who caught a touchdown pass and had a pass interception in last season’s state championship game. But they return a core group centered around quarterback Sawyer Jenks. Where there was a little bit of mystery going into last year with Sawyer taking over for older brother Kaden Jenks, who’s now vying for the starting job a Weber State University. Sawyer threw five touchdown passes in his first game as the starter and finished the season 149-of-249 for 2,790 yards and 40 touchdowns with just four interceptions. This year, there is no doubt Jenks is the triggerman for one of the most explosive offenses in the state. The offense averaged 56.6 points a game in 2017, backed by a defense went into the championship game allowing just 3.46 points a game with eight shutouts in 13 contests. “Sawyer has improved. He’s stronger and more familiar with the system,” Allred said. “If you can run the ball and throw when you want, that’s been a pretty successful formula for us.” The Knights return leading rusher Alonso Hernandez, who carried 24 times for 143 yards and three touchdowns in the state title game and finished the regular season with 1,111 yards on 157 carries with 16 touchdowns. The also return junior Lorenzo Myrick (76-for-694) and sophomore Tucker Janett (16-for-155). With Christensen (16 touchdowns) gone, they will be looking for a new scoring leader. Angel Farias returned four punts for touchdowns and will get his chance as the primary receiver. He finished the regular season with 28 receptions for 640 yards and seven touchdowns. They expect to bolster their receiving corps with Myrick at the slot receiver this year as well. “Every year we have to develop the kids to get it done at the level we want to play at. We have the kids that make ya look pretty good as a coach and we try to add to that,” Allred said. The beat goes on on the Royal Slope. The Knights open the 2018 season with 2A Ellensburg at home on Aug. 31. They play at 2A Othello on Sept. 7, then host Waluke (Sept. 14) in the first SCAC East game, before finishing out the non-league schedule at Okanogan (Sept. 21). “We expect Connell to be tough as always in our league. I’m not real sure what Warden has, but I’m sure they’ll be tough,” Allred said. “We’ll just do what we do to get ready. “But I do think our schedule is going to be more difficult this year, especially with the non-league games.”

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