ROYAL CITY — Freeman punter Desmond Parisotto had seen enough film to know who he was kicking to in Friday night’s 1A state playoff game at David Nielsen Stadium.
His first two punts angled decisively away, toward the sideline and out-of-bounds. With just under two minutes left in the first quarter, he finally boomed a 56-yarder that bounced inside the Royal 10-yard line, but instead of going out-of-bounds, it took a big hop on the 7 and Knights return man Angel Farias went to work.
Farias gathered the ball and began to pick his way up the near sideline on cruise control, waiting for the return to develop. The 6-foot-2 junior ducked between a wave of Freeman defenders as it converged, building speed as he weaved his way through to the 20, then turned on the afterburners and angled toward midfield in full stride.
Farias had only Parisotto to beat. He slowed to allow his blockers to catch up, pointing out to teammates what he needed and Freeman became the third consecutive punt team to be “Touched by an Angel” in as many weeks.
Farias’ 93-yard punt return for the touchdown was his sixth of the season and his fourth in the past three weeks. Sawyer Jenks was spot on with three first-half touchdown passes. Alonso Hernandez returned a pass interception 45 yards for a touchdown and the Knights (11-0) rolled to a 35-0 victory over the Scotties in defense of their 1A state championship.
The two-time defending state champions scored with all three units, each one impressive in its own right. Jenks connected on touchdown passes of 9 and 19 to Corbin Christensen, who sliced through the Scotties defensive backfield like a hot blade through butter, finishing up with 118 yards with eight receptions. Farias, who finished the night with 179 yards in total offense, was on the receiving end of the longest touchdown pass of the night, hauling in a 58-yard strike in the second quarter.
The Royal defense pitched its seventh shutout of the season, holding Freeman to 62 total yards and just five first downs. The Scotties punted 10 times. Hernandez stuck the dagger in the fourth quarter when he stepped in front of one too many desperate passes.
“The first half was really good football. I thought our offense executed well,” Royal coach Wiley Allred said. “It felt like we were going to score every time. Our kids played hard and our blocking up front was good. We had some great runs.”
The train kept a rollin’ all night long and all Freeman (7-4) could do was ride it out to the end of the line. Royal rushed for just 43 yards, but Jenks sliced up the Scotties defenders, completing 16-of-22 for 250 yards and three touchdowns. He punctuated the Knights’ desire to defend its title one more time, completing a fourth-and-17 to Christensen for the conversion in the third quarter.
“You want to establish your run game, so your play action is more effective. There’s always things we can improve on, but the first half felt pretty good,” Jenks said. “As a team, we played really well with a couple of nice passes and some good catches. Our protection was great all night.”
Said Logan Gomez, “We weren’t perfect, but people stepped up when they needed to,” the Knights center said. “We just needed to build on the momentum, keep our poise and concentrate on the next play.”
Offense wins games, defense wins championships and if that’s not enough, speed thrills on special teams. The Knights have all three ticking like a bomb ready to go off.
Royal plays unbeaten Okanogan (10-0) at 5 p.m. on Friday at the Apple Bowl in Wenatchee.
Score by quarters
Freeman 0 0 0 0 - 0
Royal 14 14 0 7 - 35
R - Corbin Christensen 9 pass from Sawyer Jenks (Osvaldo Guerrero kick)
R - Angel Farias 93 punt return (Guerrero kick)
R - Christensen 19 pass from Jenks (Guerrero kick)
R - Farias 58 pass from Jenks (Guerrero kick)
R - Alonso Hernandez 45 pass interception (Guerrero kick)