This past Friday the Knights hosted the Goldendale Timberwolves in a loser-out league crossover contest. It was the fourth long trip in five years that the Timberwolves made to Royal for the league crossovers without returning home with a victory.
The closest margin over the five year history was last season when the Knights scored two touchdowns in the final period to turn back the Timberwolves for the long bus ride home and move on with a narrow 14-7 win.
This time around the Knights reset the series by exploding out of the blocks to a 34-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. By the time the starters left the field at halftime they had ensured victory by going into the break with a 55-0 margin.
The Knight backups took over in the second half and secured a 69-7 final score. While the Timberwolves held Royal without any special teams or defensive scores, Royal put on their best offensive show of the season by accumulating 743 yards of total offense. Seven different players scored a total of ten touchdowns.
The only Knight to cross the goal line more than once was senior running back Damien Delarosa, with two touchdowns in each of the first two quarters to finish with 148 yards on 15 carries. Royal quarterback Alex Myrick matched Delarosa's rushing effort with four aerial touchdowns to four different receivers while amassing 327 passing yards on 13 completions.
The Knight defense was equally impressive while limiting the Goldendale attack to just 146 yards of total offense. They were led as usual by senior linebacker Marcos Morales, while twenty-seven players had at least one tackle.
In similar fashion as the Knights, their opponent this week is coming off of a solid victory.
The Cascade Kodiaks crushed Medical Lake in a loser-out crossover with a 44-14 win top set up a rematch from week one with the Royal Knights. In the first contest the Kodiaks posted the most points the Knights have allowed all season (14), but also surrendered the most points they have allowed all season as well, resulting in a 52-14 loss.
Since then, the Knights have remained undefeated while posting impressive wins over four teams who have advanced to the State playoffs. The Kodiaks recovered well from the initial loss and have continued to refine and improve while playing one of the toughest schedules in the state. Their only other losses were by razor-thin margins to Cle Elum (a lightning shortened game) and Cashmere.
The Kodiaks are convinced they are a vastly different squad this time around for the trip to Royal this Friday night. Both players and coaches feel that they beat themselves in week one with numerous turnovers and special teams breakdowns. They look forward to the rematch and have been quoted in local media as saying that nobody can beat them when they play to their capabilities; Royal included.
One thing for certain is that the Kodiaks will bring a host of talented options to Royal, including runningbacks Elijah Nash and Dennis Merritt, and receiver Fabian Alvarez. That trio will need to have an outstanding performance to match the offensive firepower of the SCAC-East League's three top scorers, who have each scored at least 100 points on the season for the Knights.
All-league running back Damien Delarosa has scored 16 total touchdowns for the Knights; 14 on the ground and 2 receiving. All-league receiver Christian Guerrero outpaced Delarosa by one touchdown, with 11 receiving and 6 rushing. Guerrero's total was eclipsed by SCAC-East Offensive Player of the Year Alex Myrick, who rushed for 13 and added 5 more on special teams and defense. He has also thrown 23 touchdowns while completing 67% of his passes.
Despite all of the offensive potential that will take the field on Friday night in Royal, it will be the better defense that will define victory. Which defense will slow their opponent's offensive weaponry the most effectively?
The Kodiaks attribute much of the improvement and success since their week one loss to the decision to insert Derek Darlington into the middle linebacker spot, giving the defense a more physical presence and gritty leadership.
The Royal defense is led by what may be the best 1A linebacking corps in the state and features league defensive MVP Brady Dixon and senior standout Marcos Morales. The tenacity of the defensive front and the speed and athleticism of the defensive backs has limited opponents to a season total of just 54 points.
Rematches are always particularly tough for the team that won the first meeting. Will the Kodiaks play to their capabilities and take down the Knights on Royal's home turf or will the Knights take an early lead and force a flood of nightmare memories of week one back into the consciousness of the Kodiaks and move on to face the Cashmere vs. Cle Elum winner?
Questions that will be answered very soon!