KENNEWICK -- From the opening kickoff Saturday, it was apparent Connell was going back to Tacoma to defend its state title.
The Eagles blitzed the Pioneers 55-21 at Lampson Stadium in Kennewick in a Class 1A semifinal and will face Cascade Christian in the state championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Tacoma Dome.
James Coulson took the opening kickoff 84 yards for a score just 14 seconds into the game, and the rout was on.
"It just opened up," Coulson said. "The wedge did a great job, I made one move and I was gone. It really fired a bunch of people up. It probably deflated them also."
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Connell (12-1), which suffered its only loss of the season to Cashmere in Week 3, wasn't done there.
After a quick three-and-out for Omak (9-4), Connell running back Matt Hadley went to work, carrying the ball five times for 37 yards and scored from the Wildcat formation for a 14-0 lead less than halfway through the opening quarter.
"They were lining up eight in the box -- I'd do the same thing, I'd be worried about Matt too," Connell coach Wayne Riner said. "He ran people over. He ran like a man possessed today."
Omak fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but Connell missed a 34-yard field goal.
After the defense forced another three-and-out, Hadley rushed four times and punched it in from 8 yards out for a 20-0 lead after the first quarter.
While the offense was in high gear, the Connell defense shouldered its part of the load, holding Omak to no first downs and minus-13 yards of offense in the first 12 minutes.
"(Omak) said they weren't worried about our defense," Coulson said, "but they should've been. The defense was really good."
After exchanging punts, Omak got on the board to get back into the game for roughly 1 minute and 18 seconds.
That's how long it took the Eagles to go 65 yards and score on a play-action pass from Chandler Salisbury to Bryant Andersen. The pair hooked up for another touchdown -- from 27-yards out on a pump-fake post to the left corner -- with just 9 seconds left in the half to give the Eagles an insurmountable 34-7 lead.
"They were all in the box and we took advantage of that," Andersen said. "We like to establish the run, and when we run like tonight, that play-action is killer."
Salisbury finished 10-of-17 passing for 185 yards and three touchdowns, while Andersen had five catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed three times for 53 yards.
Hadley and Salisbury tacked on rushing touchdowns in the second half and tight end Alan Hawkins added a 24-yard touchdown reception.
"That's what you do to a hot team," Riner said. "You jump on them fast and you don't let them back into it."
Hadley added 203 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, and now the Eagles get a chance to face Cascade Christian, which Connell defeated 28-7 in the state title game last season.
"I can't believe we're going back to the Dome," Coulson said. "We're going to be pumped."
Connell 55, Omak 21
Omak 0 7 7 7 -- 21
Connell 20 14 14 7 -- 55
Con--James Coulson 84 kickoff return (Ivan Barragan kick).
Con--Matt Hadley 7 run (Barragan kick).
Con--Hadley 8 run (kick failed).
Omak--Joseph LaGrou 38 pass from Brendon Aguilar (Josh Arzola-Guzman kick).
Con--Bryant Andersen 13 pass from Chandler Salisbury (Barragan kick).
Con--Andersen 27 pass from Salisbury (Barragan kick).
Con--Salisbury 3 run (Barragan kick).
Omak--Rylan Springer 58 pass from Aguilar (Arzola-Guzman kick).
Con--Alan Hawkins 24 pass from Salisbury (Barragan kick).
Con--Hadley 5 run (Barragan kick).
Omak--John Zaragoza 5 pass from Aguilar (Arzola-Guzman kick).
RUSHING--O, Jose Diaz 9-68, Dylan Green 10-44, Taryn Thomas 1-5, Springer 4-(-8), Aguilar 12-(-47). C, Hadley 23-203, Andersen 3-53, Couls 5-33, Salisbury 4-20, Colton Thornton 2-0.
PASSING--O, Aguilar 10-14-0--213. C, Salisbury 10-17-0--185, Kyle Pruett 0-1-0--0.
RECEIVING--O, Springer 5-146, LaGrou 3-53, Zaragoza 2-14. C, Andersen 5-108, Hadley 2-51, Hawkins 1-24, Kade Eppich 1-7, Kraymer Eppich 1-5.
FIRST DOWNS--O, 11; C, 21. FUMBLES-LOST--O, 5-2; C, 1-1. PENALTIES-YARDS--O, 2-17; C, 4-35. MISSED FG--C, 34 (short).