TACOMA — Almira/Coulee-Hartline senior Payton Nielsen couldn’t have scripted a better 18th party if he would have leaned over and whispered in Santa’s ear.
The Warriors exploded for 722 total yards on 92 plays in their runaway 84-60 victory over No. 1 Sunnyside Christian on Friday to win the 1B state championship game in the Tacoma Dome.
The Warriors (12-2) set the new 1B state records for most points scored in the championship game (84) and most total yards (722) for their second state championship in the past three seasons.
If that wasn’t enough, the 84 points scored was the same number on the jersey he wore in the final game of his ACH high school career.
“We’re taking the trophy back to the Brick House,” he said with a smile that threatened to wrap around his head. “Look at this place, our fans are going nuts, and it’s my birthday. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Maguire Isaak was 21-of-41 for 368 yards and eight touchdown passes. The ACH junior left a lasting mark in previously unbeaten Sunnyside Christian’s memory with four rushing TDs and 243 yards on the ground.
“It’s hard to even put it into words. I’m just so proud of the team and the work they’ve put in all season long,” ACH coach Brandon Walsh said. “We started out with a loss to these guys in Week 1 and felt like we gave it away in the fourth quarter. So for our guys to gut it out the way we did today is incredible to see.”
ACH started in early with three touchdowns in the first 12 minutes. Isaak found Parker Zappone on touchdown passes of 14 and 54 yards. He also scored his first rushing TD on an 18-yard burst.
“We took this game serious. We lost to these guys in the first week. But we knew we deserved to be here and we put our hearts and minds into it from the very beginning,” said Zappone, who caught six balls for 188 yards and four touchdowns. “Everybody was yelling in the locker room at halftime because we wanted to come out and punch them in the mouth and make a statement.”
Despite finishing the first half 11-of-26 with 166 yards passing and 51 rushing, Sunnyside Christian held Isaak in check. They contained him in the pocket, even sacked him once in the first half.
But Isaak, whose cousin Dallas led the Warriors to the 2015 championship, put on a highlight reel second half. The 6-foot, 175-pound junior threw touchdown passes of 7, 45, 44 and 6 yards and broke off a 92-yard run for the touchdown after the Warriors stopped the Knights on fourth-and-goal when Anthony Giuliani stuffed the play on the 2.
“I was nervous at the half that we might have another letdown like we did in Week 1. But we just kept extending the lead,” Isaak said. “We have athletes and can score in a hurry, so I felt pretty good. It feels awesome to be part of something like this. We had two losses during the regular season and have been working our tails off ever since to get better. I think we changed our mindset became mentally tougher.”
The ACH total offense (722) erased a 22-year-old record of 685 set by Pateros in 1995. The Warriors also eclipsed Tri-Cities Prep’s 2009 record of 80 points against Lummi Nation. But for four seniors, this was a special way to play their final game as an ACH Warrior.
“When I started my freshmen year, we weren’t all that great, but we worked hard,” senior Tim Hahn said. “We got here in 2015 and won it, and it’s felt like we should be in the championship game ever since.
“We’ve played some far away games and a lot of times we have a bigger crowd than the home team. So it means a lot to have them here with us today.”
Sunnyside Christian 8 14 16 22 - 60
Almira/Coulee-Hartline 18 16 30 20 - 84
ACH - Parker Zappone 15 pass from Maguire Isaak (pass fails)
ACH - Isaak 18 run (run fails)
SUN - Chance Marsh 2 run (Luke Wagenaar pass from Chance Marsh)
ACH - Parker Zappone 54 pass from Isaak (Payton Nielsen pass from Isaak)
ACH - Nielsen 21 pass from Isaak (Zappone pass from Gage Burchill good)
SUN - Lane Marsh 8 pass from Chance Marsh (pass fails)
ACH - Burchill 6 pass from Isaak (Nielsen pass from Isaak)
SUN - Luke Wagenaar 14 pass from Chance Marsh (Chance Marsh from Kyler Marsh)
ACH - Nielsen 7 pass Isaak (Brayton Schafer pass from Isaak)
SUN - Lane Marsh 45 pass from Chance Marsh (Wagenaar pass from Kyler Marsh)
ACH - Parker Zappone 44 pass from Isaak (run fails)
ACH - Payton Nielsen 6 pass from Isaak (Nielsen pass from Isaak)
ACH - Isaak 92 run (Anthony Giulliani run)
SUN - Lane Marsh 51 pass from Kyler Marsh (Luke Wagenaar pass from Chance Marsh)
ACH - Parker Zappone 42 pass from Isaak (run fails)
SUN - Kyler Marsh 7 pass from Chance Marsh (Lane Marsh pass from Chance Marsh)
ACH - Isaak 52 run (Burchill pass from Isaak)
SUN - Wagenaar 3 pass from Chance Marsh (pass fails)
ACH - Isaak 22 run (Burchill pass from Isaak)
SUN - Lane Marsh 71 pass from Chance Marsh (Lane Marsh pass from Chance Marsh)