The Royal High School football team wouldn’t let the 1A state championship game come down to a close finish like the three Tacoma Dome state title games before it.
King’s tried, but in Royal territory with about eight minutes to play, Royal’s Joseph Lang stepped in front of Koa Wilkins’ pass along the left sideline and returned it 58 yards for the game-securing touchdown to lift the top-ranked Knights of Royal City to a 28-7 victory over the Knights of Seattle on Saturday to cap an undefeated season.
“I saw the (first down) sticks and I knew they were going to try a comeback (route),” Lang said. “When I saw him throw it, I broke for it and when I caught it I just told myself, ‘They are only two scores down, we just need one more to put it away.’ ”
So Lang did it himself, weaving across the field and finding the end zone to give Royal (14-0) its first state title since 2007 and sixth in school history. Royal had reached and lost in the state title game in 2012.
Coach Wiley Allred’s reaction?
“Thank you, Joe,” Allred said, laughing. “Joe Lang is pretty good. That’s what we’ve seen all year from him. He’s a collegiate-type athlete.”
It was only fitting for a defense that finishes the season having allowed 63 points all season (4.5 per game).
“The kids are just a bunch of little kids. We got a bunch of short kids on (defense),” said Allred, who won his fifth title as the school’s coach and owns more 1A state titles than any coach in state history. “But they are pretty quick and they are pretty tenacious.”
Royal jumped to a 21-0 lead in the first half, with quarterback Kaden Jenks competing 16 of 24 passes in the game for 229 yards. Lang ran for 64 yards on 14 carries with two rushing TDs.
King’s lost two fumbles and was intercepted twice.
“This is not a discount on them — they are extremely fast — but I bet you if we watch the film, it’s going to go back to the turnover game,” King’s coach Jim Shapiro said. “We hurt ourselves and they are a very fast, very athletic football team. You combine those things and you have the outcome we had today.”