Chiawana High School's hallways reverberated with rally cries Thursday afternoon.
The Riverhawks football team is on the verge of earning the school's first state team championship and the cheers were loud and clear.
Music from the Pasco school's marching band echoed off the walls and spirited shouts from the school's dance team and cheerleaders added to the din.
Cries of support from the entire student body completed the cacophony as classmates fell in line behind the blue, white and gray procession of football players, band members, cheerleaders and others snaking through the school.
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Students cheered during and after speeches from the school's athletic director and several football players in the school commons.
"We are," shouted senior left tackle Kayden Maughan.
"Chiawana!" responded the sea of bodies punctuated by uplifted smartphones and cameras as they joined in one final rallying to pump up the team before Saturday's 4A state championship in Tacoma.
Students and school officials said it was rewarding to see the team's efforts pay off with a deep playoff run.
But they said it goes beyond the team and also is the result of a talented band and spirit squads and supportive student body.
"It's created a whole new level of school culture and climate," said senior McKinley Powers, student body president and a cheerleader.
Chiawana has had pep rallies in the past when it sent students to other state competitions -- be it athletics or debate, said Principal John Wallwork.
The school, which opened just five years ago, has a state athletic champion in Sadie Sparks, who won the 100-meter hurdles in 2011, said Athletic Director John Cazier.
Having students on the cusp of a team championship, however, has created a new level of enthusiasm at the school this week.
"It's great to see what their hard work has made," said McKinley, 17.
Kayden, also 17, was a freshman on the team when the Riverhawks made it to the quarterfinals in 2010 but lost to Ferris High School.
The momentum from that year propelled him and the other seniors to build the team into what it is now, he said.
Kayden and Cazier praised the school's cheerleaders, dancers and band members for their contributions to school spirit and the game day atmosphere.
Cazier said they won't be making catches or tackles but still fill an important role at the Tacoma Dome on Saturday.
"This is a lot bigger than a football game," he said.
Also, two buses with a combined 100 students will follow the five buses carrying the football team, band and spirit squads.
Cazier noted that doesn't include students, parents and others who will drive across the mountains on their own.
Kayden said he is nervous heading into the game but that he and his teammates are all business about this weekend's game. His last three words before leaving school?
"We are Chiawana."
-- Ty Beaver: 582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald