High School Football

Connell's Hadley earns All-Area football MVP

As the years pass, Connell High School will most certainly add more football championship banners to its gymnasium rafters. The tradition established there is bigger than any one player or one graduating class.

However, the Eagles can look long and hard, but they aren't likely to find another player like Matt Hadley, who hit the ground running as a freshman and didn't stop until he held two state records (and nearly a third).

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound senior running back racked up 124 career touchdowns and 746 career points -- both records for all classes -- and 6,881 rushing yards, second only to 7,755 by Timberline's Jonathan Stewart. He capped his career by rushing for 2,330 yards and 40 touchdowns, leading Connell to its second 1A state title in four seasons.

Hadley, who will suit up for BYU as a true freshman next fall, can appreciate the numbers, but they're not what he's most proud of.

"I would say winning a state championship with the guys I played with my whole life is definitely the perfect ending to my career," said Hadley, the Tri-City Herald All-Area player of the year.

"It's a really cool accomplishment to look back and see that; to be able to share those records with the team and know all my friends were a part of it," he said. "I want to say thanks to my teammates and coaches for always being there for me and for helping me have a successful career."

There were high expectations for Hadley and Connell, which began the season ranked No. 2 in the statewide polls. A Week 3 loss to Cashmere took some of the wind out of their sails but failed to deter the Eagles from their ultimate goal.

Ultimately, Hadley found redemption in a 20-9 quarterfinal win over the same Cashmere team that beat them over two months before.

"We kind of beat the odds, especially after that loss," Hadley said. "We put everybody in their place with that win. It was kind of roll tide after that."

Something else Hadley won't forget was the final play of the championship game at the Tacoma Dome, a hail mary by Cascade Christian that was batted away by Connell defenders, resulting in a 28-7 victory.

"When we knocked that down, I remember hearing the horn go off and feeling a sense of relief," he said. "That dome, though, I can't even describe how it sucks the life out of you. The heat -- you just can't breathe."

One player in particular who impressed Hadley was receiver and defensive back Kade Eppich, who suffered a broken collarbone after intercepting his third pass of the game in the second half. The injury didn't keep Eppich -- a second-team All-Area receiver -- from celebrating with the team on a memorable bus ride home.

"Kade was the player of the game in that state championship. The whole season, the way that kid performed; I can't say enough about him," Hadley said. "I know he was in pain, but that he still wanted to ride back with us was cool."

If you want to talk about a true perfect ending, talk to Waitsburg-Prescott head coach Jeff Bartlow, the Herald's coach of the year. He led the Cardinals to a 13-0 record and the first-ever state championship in the history of either school.

One of the most meaningful aspects of that accomplishment was watching his son, Zach, quarterback the team and rack up some eye-popping numbers (2,333 yards passing, 33 TDs; 1,418 yards rushing, 23 TDs). Zach earned the all-purpose nod to the All-Area first team.

"When Zach was (on the) freshman (team), he went undefeated, and I thought we'd have a chance to be pretty good over his final two years. That turned out to be quite true," said Jeff, who took over at Waitsburg in 1999. "When I got here, my goal was to win a state championship. I didn't know how long it would take."

And now that he's done it?

"The whole thing is overwhelming and humbling," he said. "I'm proud of the kids' work ethic and obedience to what it takes to win a championship. It was a huge accomplishment."

Kamiakin, the CBBN 3A champion and state semifinalist for the second consecutive season, picked up the most first-team selections with seven. Running back/linebacker Zach Umemoto and offensive/defensive lineman Joe Hunt were named on both sides of the ball. Fellow Braves Jesse Houser (kick returner), Drew Oord (linebacker) and James Swinyard (defensive back) also earned spots.

Chiawana, the CBBN 4A champ, earned six spots on the first team, led by wide receiver/defensive back Miquiyah Zamora and offensive/defensive lineman Gates Michel. They were joined by defensive back C.J. Edrington and linebacker Jordan Downing -- a repeat selection along with Hadley, Zamora, Umemoto and Oord.

Southridge took four spots, led by quarterback Matt Mendenhall and receiver Josh Richards, who combined to lead the CBBN 3A in their respective categories. The Suns also had the area's top kicking game, led by placekicker Cameron Mertens and punter Chris Haueter.

Kennewick, which reached the 3A quarterfinals for the first time since 2007, put three players on the first team: running back Grant Woods, linebacker Shaun Smith and defensive back Brock Schuh.

Hadley joined two other Eagles -- offensive lineman Kennan VanHollebeke and defensive lineman Tyson Brook -- on the first team.

Rounding out the first team is Hanford defensive lineman Joe Douglas, Richland offensive lineman Dennis Christensen and Sunnyside defensive lineman Rudy Navarro.

First team

MVP —Matt Hadley, sr., Connell

Coach of the year — Jeff Bartlow, Waitsburg-Prescott

OFFENSE

QB — Matt Mendenhall, sr., Southridge

RB — Matt Hadley, sr., Connell

RB — Grant Woods, sr., Kennewick

RB — Zach Umemoto, sr., Kamiakin

WR — Miquiyah Zamora, sr., Chiawana

WR — Josh Richards, sr., Southridge

OL — Gates Michel, sr., Chiawana

OL — Joe Hunt, sr., Kamiakin

OL — Dennis Christensen, sr., Richland

OL — Joe Douglas, jr., Hanford

OL — Kennan VanHollebeke, sr., Connell

KR — Jesse Houser, sr., Kamiakin

AP — Zach Bartlow, sr., Waitsburg-Prescott

PK — Chandler Mertens, sr., Southridge



DEFENSE

DL — Joe Hunt, sr., Kamiakin

DL — Gates Michel, sr., Chiawana

DL — Rudy Navarro, sr., Sunnyside

DL — Tyson Brook, sr., Connell

LB — Zach Umemoto, sr., Kamiakin

LB — Drew Oord, sr., Kamiakin

LB — Jordan Downing, sr., Chiawana

LB — Shaun Smith, Kennewick

DB — Brock Schuh, sr., Kennewick

DB — James Swinyard, sr., Kamiakin

DB — Miquiyah Zamora, sr., Chiawana

DB — C.J. Edrington, sr., Chiawana

P — Chris Haueter, sr., Southridge

Second team

Offense

QB | Ryan Fassler, jr., Prosser

RB | Bobby Adams, sr., Hermiston

RB | Caleb Garza, sr., Othello

RB | Isaac Anderson, sr., Prosser

WR | Danny Raap, jr., Prosser

WR | Kade Eppich, sr., Connell

OL | Enzo Hurtado, sr., Prosser

OL | Anthony Otero, sr., Othello

OL | Kayden Maughn, soph., Chiawana

OL | Nate Brandhorst, sr., Kamiakin

OL | Cole Vanderbilt, sr., Connell

Defense

DL | Rudolfo Cruz, sr., Prosser

DL | Jarrett Snowhite, sr., Richland

DL | Tyson Mollotte, sr., Othello

DL | Jarrett Wolf, sr., Richland

LB | Ethan Whitby, sr., Richland

LB | Sawyer Powell, sr., Richland

LB | Chandler Salisbury, sr., Connell

LB | Alex Weber, soph., Chiawana

DB | Elijah Gardaya, sr., Richland

DB | Juston Lind, jr., Othello

DB | Joey Contreras, jr., Sunnyside

DB | Corey McLain, sr., Kamiakin

All Purpose | Chris Haueter, sr., Southridge

Special teams

PK | Q Taychack, sr., Richland

KR | Miquiyah Zamorah, sr., Chiawana

Punt | Damien De La Rosa, jr., Royal



Third-team offense

QB | Zach Bartlow, sr., Waits.-Prescott

RB | B.K. Robinson, sr., Richland

RB | Dalton Morgan, sr., Kiona-Benton

WR | Paul Hamada, sr., Southridge

WR | Nathan Roberts, sr., Columb.-Burbank

TE | Brady Dixon, jr., Royal

OL | Garrett Wilz, sr., Kennewick

OL | Matt Shute, sr., Touchet

OL | Cadman Donovan, sr., Waits.-Prescott

OL | Nolan Saam, sr., Prosser

OL | Matt Zimmerman, sr., DeSales

OL | Sean Clausen, sr., Kamiakin

Third-team defense

DL | Kroft Sunderland, sr., Dayton

DL | Jake Sullins, sr., Kennewick

DL | Yurik Tyutyunnik, sr., River View

DL | Ivan Diaz, sr., Kennewick

LB | Dustin Wooderchak, sr., Waits.-Prescott

LB | Jared Sabin, sr., Wahluke

LB | Joey Hurtado, sr., Prosser

LB | T.J. Fields, sr., Kennewick

DB | Tyler Morris, jr., Liberty-Christian

DB | Alex Myrick, jr., Royal

DB | Eric Hines, sr., Touchet

DB | Matt Hadley, sr., Connell

All Purpose | Zach Simpkins, sr., Liberty Christian

AP | Dalton Estes, sr., Waits.-Prescott

Special teams

PK/P | Isaac Mitz, soph. Chiawana

KR | Moe Handcox, sr., Walla Walla

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