All season long, the Kalama Chinooks built their offense around the pass game. Agile Alex Dyer orchestrated a highly efficient spread that utilized Kalama’s best athletes.
But when it came down to crunch time, coach Sean McDonald turned to his run game.
Elijah Haynes became the unlikely heroes in Kalama’s 28-27 win over Liberty (Spangle) in the Class 2B State Championship. Haynes and Colby Hutchinson combined for 43 yards on five carries on an eight-play, 70-yard game-winning drive, capped by Haynes’ 16-yard touchdown burst.
“We were running great all game (to the tune of 168 yards). We didn’t do it as much as I wanted to,” Haynes said. “But we did it at the end; that’s all that matters.”
Haynes had just one other rushing touchdown on the year, sharing the backfield with Jacob Herz to start the year and with Hutchinson to close it. The sophomore back’s confidence never wavered though.
He sat awake Friday night thinking of a potential game-winning run. And boy, was it a beauty.
Haynes burst through the line, knocked over a defender and cut outside. With blocking in front, he would dance into any future tales of Kalama glory.
“I was up all night thinking about the game-winning touchdown and I’m so surprised it happened,” Haynes said. “Our line did a great job blocking all night long.”
All that was left was for the Chinooks’ other unlikely hero to send a ball through the uprights. Easier said than done.
Junior Logan Jones was 3-3 on point-after tries on the game, battling sickness and a meniscus injury.
But he wouldn’t go down as the goat in this, sending the ball through the uprights and Kalama into a frenzy.
“That kickoff afterward I was shaking so bad. I was so happy,” Jones said. “My nerves finally hit me. It was awesome.”
The 2017 Chinooks were a star-studded bunch and 20 years from now, the Kalama faithful will talk about the speed of Herz, the elusiveness of Dyer and the athleticism of Tucker Wetmore. But Haynes and Jones’ performances should not be overlooked.
Even the protagonist needs a supporting cast. Sometimes, they just might save the day.