The Colfax football team never took for granted that this could happen.
For one thing, Colfax coach Mike Morgan never would have allowed it.
Certainly the Bulldogs wanted to get back to the 2B state championship game after they watched an opportunity slip away in a 32-24 turnover-plagued loss to Adna in the final last year.
With their key skill players back, the Bulldogs (12-0) set their sights on redemption. They’ll find out if they can take the final step in their journey Saturday evening when they square off with South Bend (10-2) at the Tacoma Dome. Kickoff is at 7:30.
“It’s cool to get a second chance. Not a lot of teams get a second chance,” the coach’s son, Kellen Morgan, a three-year starter at tight end and safety, said. “We’re taking that to heart. We’re not going to let this slip.”
Morgan and best friend, senior quarterback/cornerback Alex Teade, also a three-year starter, have dreamed about winning their own state title since they were ball boys as third graders on the 2001 Colfax state championship team.
“That’s been our dream since we were kids and we’re one step away,” Teade said.
Senior running back/linebacker Tyler McNannay feels blessed to be returning to Tacoma.
“For most people, getting a chance to play in a state championship game is a once in a lifetime thing,” McNannay said. “For us, we’re lucky enough to have a second chance and that’s huge.”
Just like it’s been every week in the playoffs, the final presents a rematch for No. 1-ranked Colfax. The Bulldogs cruised past South Bend 37-6 in the quarterfinals last year.
Mike Morgan expects things to be tighter this time.
“South Bend was dangerous last year,” Morgan said. “They were a junior-dominated team. They have big physical kids. They’re going to try to pound it.”
It’s going to be Colfax’s speed against South Bend’s size. That’s a matchup Morgan will take any day.
“We had to get outside on them last year,” Morgan said. “If you try to go inside it’s like running into a brick wall.”
On defense the Bulldogs will try to make the Indians do what they don’t want to do – pass.
“If we allow them to run like they have against everybody else it will be a long night for us,” Morgan said. “What does this tell you about them? Their quarterback wears No. 33. He’s not a thrower. He wants to run the ball and he runs downhill. He goes straight ahead. He’d rather run over you than around you.”
South Bend has the Bulldogs’ respect.
“They beat Napavine and they were ranked No. 2 all year,” Morgan said. “They’re certainly worthy of being in the title game.”
And there’s only one way the Bulldogs figure the season should end.
“We’re on the brink,” Kellen said. “It’s been a fun year. It’s meant a lot to us. We’ve enjoyed every step on the ladder. We’re excited for our shot.”
“We’ve got to finish this year,” he said.
McNannay has rushed for 1,422 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. Teade has thrown for 1,867 yards, completing 114 of 174 attempts. He has 28 TDs and four interceptions. Morgan has led all receivers with 20 catches for 249 yards. … SB has attempted just 49 passes, completing 19 for 329 yards. Four running backs have combined for 1,705 yards.