CONNELL -- There was a bit of a running joke between Connell junior Matt Hadley and some of his teammates this season.
It went something like this: Hadley's personal goals were to rush for 2,000 yards and score 40 touchdowns.
That's not funny, but the joke was about how loaded the Eagles were with playmakers, and so Hadley figured it was laughable that he would come close to either of those.
The joke's on Hadley, apparently, as the BYU-bound running back has put up eye-popping stats in 2010 and continues to climb the ladders of state records.
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"It's a little bit of a shock," Hadley said of his numbers so far. "I didn't go in to every game thinking, 'Oh man, I have to score this many touchdowns and rush this many yards.' I just played football, did what my coaches told me and went out and played."
Hadley has rushed for 2,399 yards on 259 carries for a 9.3 yard average and scored a whopping 47 touchdowns.
And he has one more game to add to those totals.
Connell faces Cascade Christian for the Class 1A state title at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Tacoma Dome.
"My goal for my senior season was 2,500 yards," he said. "I might have to adjust that."
While Hadley was only half-joking about his goals for his senior year, what he has accomplished this season is lost on no one.
From opposing coaches to opposing players, from college coaches to fans, Hadley is a marvel to watch.
He runs behind a senior-laden offensive line that features four SCAC East first-teamers. Using the holes they create, he uses exceptional vision, brute strength and surprising speed for a player listed at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds.
He can return kicks, catch passes and, of course, score touchdowns.
"You can coach 20 or 30 years and you might only get one or two Matt Hadleys," River View coach Brett Jay said. "He is very rare at our level. Even though he isn't on our team, it is fun to have him in our league and to compete against him."
Hadley fits the bill of the player whom opposing coaches know they can't stop, so they just hope to contain him.
One of the few teams to slow him down this season was Kiona-Benton, though Hadley still managed 96 yards and three touchdowns.
"His vision is what is amazing," Kiona-Benton coach Charlie Hobbick said. "The guys up front at Connell are so strong. When they lock onto someone and give a glimpse of an opening, he sees that and hits it. He is just an incredible athlete."
Ask Hadley about his vision and he has a hard time explaining it, which is generally a good thing, because that means he has an innate ability that can't be taught.
"I don't know how to describe it," Hadley said. "It's like second nature, I guess. ... I honestly don't know. It is just instincts.
"If I happen to see something, my body just -- Boom! -- takes me there."
The kind of ability Hadley has is not something that can be taught, though it isn't as though he doesn't work.
Last offseason, Hadley went in with the goal of gaining weight to better bear the brunt of being a feature back and playing safety on defense.
"My head coach (Wayne Riner) was worried about me slowing down," Hadley said. "I worked with my running backs coach (Scott Forsyth), and I've gotten a lot quicker and a lot faster, that is for sure."
Hadley went from being a wiry 170 to a bulked-up 195 -- and it was obvious from the first snap of the season he was going to be tough to bring down.
"He pretty much has the whole package," Royal coach Wiley Allred said. "Quickness, power, strength. His quickness separates him from so many others his size -- that's more than you normally see with that kind of size."
That quickness is one reason he is chasing hallowed records in this state.
He has 4,571 yards rushing in his career with 85 touchdowns. He is less than 1,000 yards from reaching the top five in career rushing for all classifications, though 3,200 yards behind the state record held by Timberline's Jonathan Stewart (7,755).
His touchdowns put him just 14 behind Prosser's Kirby Moore for the career record.
He needs 120 yards Saturday to climb into the top five for single-season rushing.
While Hadley said he will probably look back at all his individual marks fondly one day, what he is most proud of is getting to play in a second consecutive state championship game.
"If our team can win this weekend, and who knows, maybe come back to the Dome next season," he said, "and have a shot at winning that ... (For) me personally? That would be more joy, I guess you could say.
"To see that record in our school, see those banners, that would be better than a career touchdown record."