Hanging in the Royal High weight room are team photos of all five state championship teams.
Banners featuring the 1996, 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2007 teams hang, showing a who’s who of Royal football greats.
Carter Christensen and his teammates plan on adding another poster to the wall this week.
The Knights face Montesano (11-2) at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Class 1A state title game at the Tacoma Dome.
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“To have our pictures up in the weight room for the incoming Royal football players to look at, that is what we want the most,” Christensen said. “To be an inspiration for the future Royal Knights.”
Christensen, a senior, anchors a powerful offensive line that has chewed teams up all season. The Knights (13-0) have only been challenged one time — last week’s 31-28 semifinal victory over River View — and easily could enter the pantheon of great Royal teams.
“It’d mean the world,” senior tight end Brady Dixon said. “Both of my cousins have state rings ... it is just the tradition. We have to keep it going. We have to play hard and come back with a win hopefully, just prove what we can do and how good we are.”
The Knights almost didn’t get the chance to prove they are the best team in the state, when they found themselves trailing 28-23 to River View early in the fourth quarter.
After committing a multitude of turnovers, Royal was in serious danger of seeing its dream season come to an end.
“That was a bit of a surprise,” senior fullback Christian Guerrero said. “I feel like we got a little overconfident. We just kept our heads up and talked to each other and ended up winning.”
The Knights stepped up on both sides of the ball, especially on defense, as they stopped a late drive by the Panthers to secure the victory.
“You’d rather win by a lot, but we really showed our resiliency,” Christensen said. “To have to come from behind for the first time all season, you wonder how you will react.
“I think we showed a lot of poise by staying calm and playing our game.”
The practices since Saturday’s wakeup call have been even more intense.
“It’s been very focused,” Dixon said. “We are taking it very seriously this week. It’s the biggest game we’ll ever play.”
It’s the first time the Knights have been to the state title game since defeating arch rival Connell 28-16 in the 2007 game. It’s also been a long time coming for this senior-laden group, who had not gone past the semifinals during their careers.
“We’ve always looked up to all the other people that played football here,” Guerrero said. “Everyone was so good back then. We just try and play our best, and try to keep Royal on top.”