Kennewick Lions keep rolling along with 42-7 victory over Sunnyside on Thursday night

Kennewick running back Alexander Roberts in the 3A football state quarterfinal game in Yelm in 2022.

Canaan Hays has been pals with Alex Roberts ever since the two Kennewick High juniors were in first grade.

“We’re great friends,” said Hays. “Although we played on opposite teams against each other in Grid Kids.”

Now together, Hays and Roberts have provided the Lions a great 1-2 punch by sharing touches at running back. It really worked well on Thursday night, as Kennewick (3-0) routed visiting Sunnyside 42-7 in a non-league game at Lampson Stadium.

The Grizzlies, who should be one of the top teams in the Columbia Basin Big Nine, drop to 1-2.

It was Hays who opened the scoring for Kennewick in the first quarter with a 4-yard touchdown run.

Later in the quarter Roberts — who became the Lions’ star running back last season as a sophomore — broke loose for a 35-yard TD scamper.

In the end, Hays rushed 12 times for 107 yards; Roberts added 101 yards rushing on 9 carries.

“At the end of the season last year, Canaan started to come on,” said Kennewick coach Randy Affholter. “I thought he would step up this year. But we (have to have them share touches) because they both play on defense.”

In fact, it was Hays at linebacker who found a tipped pass fall into his hands … and a whole lot of green space with no one in front of him.

That interception turned into a 70-yard pick-6 early in the third quarter to give Kennewick a 35-0 lead.

“Oh, my eyes got so big,” Hays admitted. “I just watched my lead blockers lead the way.”

Hays would add 4 tackles and a hurry on the night.

From his defensive back spot, Roberts contributed 5 tackles.

But neither of those guys were Thursday’s defensive leader. That honor went to Dylin McIntyre. The senior defensive lineman who is bound for the University of Idaho next fall had 6 tackles (3 for loss) and a hurry.

“On defense we did a great job playing with energy early,” said Affholter. “But then we got tired. (Sunnyside) went uptempo on us.”

Indeed, the Grizzlies ran 70 offensive plays to the Lions’ 39.

The problem? Kennewick took control of the game early, and when Sunnyside finally got going offensively, it was too late.

“We need to work on all phases of the game,” said Grizzlies coach Marshall Lobbestael. “We cant go 3-and-out on offense, and then our defense can’t stop them. They’re well coached.”

Sunnyside quarterback Ethan Avalos, a junior, had 293 yards on 27 of 42 passing.

Eli Fernandez caught 9 passes for 127 yards.

For the Lions, QB Ambrose Driver was 7 for 14 for 157 yards passing and three scoring strikes.

David Wacenske caught 4 passes for 95 yards and two scores — including a 72-yard catch and run for a TD.


Sunnyside 0 0 7 0 — 7

Kennewick 21 7 14 0 — 42


K — Canaan Hays 4 run (Tanner Chavez kick)

K — Kyler Witkowski 39 pass from Ambrose Driver (Chavez kick)

K — Alex Roberts 35 run (Chavez kick)

K — David Wacenske 4 pass from A.Driver (Chavez kick)

K — Hays 70 interception return (Chavez kick)

S — Eli Fernandez 16 pass from Ethan Avalos (Alberto Ledesma kick)

K — Wacenske 72 pass from A.Driver (Chavez kick)


RUSHING — S, Rylee Gonzalez 11-29, Derek Hansen 8-7, E.Fernandez 1-minus 1, Avalos 6-minus 5, Team 2-minus 27, Totals 28-3. K, Hays 12-107, Roberts 9-101, A.Driver 2-4, Dawson Gebers 2-3, Totals 25-209.

PASSING — S, Avalos 27-42-2-293. K, A.Driver 7-14-0-157.

RECEIVING — S, E.Fernandez 9-127, Cody Diddens 6-58, Noah McNair 7-51, Seb Magana 4-44, R.Gonzalez 1-13. K, Wacenske 4-95, Witkowski 1-39, Gebers 1-12, McIntyre 1-11.

FIRST DOWNS — S 17, K 13. FUMBLES-LOST — S 2-0, K 2-1. PENALTIES-YARDS — S 3-30, K 4-50.


Also Thursday, the host Mustangs built a 20-0 lead, then held off a furious Greyhounds rally to win the 2A CWAC opener.

Aaron Gonzalez gave Prosser the lead for good when he took the opening kickoff and ran it back 82 yards for a touchdown.

Kory McClure led Prosser with 226 yards passing, completing 21 of 28 attempts. Noah Moreno was the Mustangs’ top receiver, catching 3 passes for 79 yards.

Junior Erik Delgado had 95 yards of offense — rushing 8 times for 53 yards and a touchdown, and catching 3 passes for 42 yards.

The Mustangs were missing a few starters due to injuries, but Prosser coach Corey Ingvalson said, “Credit to Grandview. They were better than us in a lot of areas tonight.”

Tucker Santjer led the way offensively for Grandview (0-1 CWAC, 2-1 overall). The junior quarterback passed for 68 yards and rushed for another 20.

Linebacker Dutch Graf was in on 17 tackles for the Greyhounds.