There are always myriad things that can go wrong during a football game.
For Sam Christensen, they started before the Royal High School wide receiver/defensive back even took the field for Saturday’s Class 1A championship game Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
His football gear — shoulder pads, cleats and even his helmet — was stolen early in the week, leaving him to scavenge gear from the rest of the team. If that wasn’t enough, he pulled a hamstring during Friday’s workout at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton.
But nobody would have known it Saturday, when Christensen caught eight passes for 124 yards in Royal’s 28-7 win over King’s. He also had six tackles on a defense that allowed seven points or fewer for the 12th time this season.
“Once I got into the game, I wasn’t worried about anything else other than stopping (King’s),” Christensen said. “I’m just glad I got to finish the game with my brothers.”
Six-time state champion Royal (14-0) also got a big-time boost from multitalented senior Joe Lang, who ran for two touchdowns. He added a third score on a fourth-quarter 58-yard interception return when it looked as though the game could swing King’s way.
“Thank you, Joe. I’m glad we have you,” Royal coach Wiley Allred said when asked about his response to Lang’s big defensive play. “That’s what we’re used to seeing from him all year. He’s a collegiate-type athlete.”
Lang ran for 64 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and also had two catches for 25 yards. He had two interceptions on the day, including a first-quarter pick that stopped a King’s drive inside the Royal 35-yard line.
Lang said he picked up some good reads while watching King’s players on Hudl, an online site featuring team and individual game film.
“It wasn’t really the quarterback I was reading, it was the receiver. When I saw him break (out of his route), I knew he was running. I saw the sticks, so I knew where the first down was. When I turned, the ball was there,” Lang said of his touchdown return. “I was visualizing that on the bus on the way over here.”
Allred gave credit to the defense, which kept King’s (12-2) off the board even when the offense stalled in the second half, gaining just 30 yards from scrimmage after going for 282 in the first half.
“They’re just a bunch of kids, really,” Allred said. “I’ve got a bunch of short kids, but they’re pretty tenacious.”
Royal quarterback Kaden Jenks finished with efficient numbers, completing 16 of 24 passes for 229 yards and running for his team’s third touchdown. The strong-armed junior will be back next year with hopes of making a return trip to the Dome.
“This is a testament to how much work we put in and what a great job the coaches did,” Jenks said. “We’re looking for another (title). That’s the ultimate goal.”
R — Joe Lang 10 run (Jose Ponce kick)
R — Lang 2 run (Ponce kick)
R — Kaden Jenks 8 run (Ponce kick)
K — Caleb Perry 3 run (Jack Van Dyke kick)
R — Lang 58 interception return (Ponce kick)
RUSHING — R, Lang 14-64, Jenks 6-10, Sam Christensen 1-0, team 2-(minus 4). K, Perry 15-117, Andrew Cline 17-65, Koa Wilkins 9-31, Jackson Whittaker 3-13.
PASSING — R, Jenks 16-24-0-229, Lang 1-1-0-13. K, Wilkins 8-19-3-78.
RECEIVING — R, S.Christensen 8-124, Ponce 4-64, Lang 2-25, Sawyer Stakkeland 2-25. K, Jake Welch 3-42, Edmund Sundquist 2-14, Cole Mitchell 2-9, Ben Hermes 1-13.
FIRST DOWNS — R 17, K 17. FUMBLES-LOST — R 0-0, K 2-1. PENALTIES — R 4-29, K 7-59.
2B FINAL: Clay Ashworth rushed for 133 yards on 20 carries and threw for 173 yards with three touchdowns as Okanogan (13-1) pulled out a 36-34 win over Napavine (11-3) at the Tacoma Dome.
Okanogan beat Napavine 17-14 in last season’s 2B title game. This season’s final came down to a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Greyson Fields that erased a 34-30 Okanogan deficit with 2:54 to play.
The Seattle Times contributed to this report.