An unforgettable fall sports season in Camas ended abruptly Saturday, after the football team lost to defending state champion Skyline 51-28 at the Tacoma Dome.
But even down to the last seconds of those painful 48 minutes, students, staff members, parents, family members and friends were shouting, “We love Camas.”
What more could they ask of their Papermakers? The girls cross country team captured another state championship trophy and the boys also finished in the top 10 at state. The girls soccer team fought their way into the Final Four and earned fourth. The volleyball team rallied for fifth place at state. The girls swimming team snatched the district title from Union on the last race of the day. Jonathan Ho clinched the district singles tennis title, and Camas is also sending a couple golfers to state in the spring.
These battered hands are all you own. This broken heart has turned to stone. Hang your glories on the wall. There comes a time when castles fall. And all that’s left is shifting in the sand. You’re out of time. You’re out of place. Look at your face. That’s the measure of a man.
Saturday started out like any other day for Camas football. Nate Beasley delivered on a couple of big runs, Zach Eagle made some snags and Beasley capped off the first drive of the game with a 24-yard touchdown.
The Papermakers forced a quick punt, but the Spartans kept the bouncing ball in play and pinned Camas on its own 3-yard line. On the next snap, Reilly Hennessey rolled out of the pocket, eluded the defenders in the end zone and tossed a terrific pass to a very wide open Zach Eagle down the field. Eagle soared to the end zone on a play that went for 94 yards.
Back on the beat. Back to the start. Trust in your heart. That’s the measure of a man.
Nobody could have imagined what would happen next. Skyline scored 44 straight points, while Camas was unable to land that critical counter blow. Connor Maloney recovered a fumble in the end zone, but the Papermakers kept giving the ball back to the Spartans on interceptions. After picking off a pass in the end zone that could have tied the game, Skyline took advantage of an offsides call against Camas and kicked a 47-yard field goal for a 24-14 advantage at halftime.
It’s the fire in the eyes. The lines on the hand. It’s the things you understand. Permanent ties from which you once ran. That’s the measure of a man.
No other game before this one prepared the Papermakers for what the Spartans would do next. Skyline quarterback Max Browne – who completed 29 of his 32 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns – skipped the rock across the carpet like it was a creek.
It looked like an incomplete pass, Camas stopped thinking the ball was dead, but it was a trick play. Matt Sinatro scooped the ball up and fired it down the field for a 49-yard touchdown pass. The Spartans scored two more touchdowns before the Papermakers finally answered the bell.
You’ve come full circle, now you’re home. Without the gold, without the chrome. This is where you’ve always been. You had to lose so you could win. Rise above your troubles while you can.
Down by 30 points, the Papermakers dug down even deeper to put some points on the board for their school and their community. After a 2-yard touchdown run, Hennessey yanked a few Spartans off their pedestals and flicked a pass to Eagle. Eagle piloted some evasive maneuvers and touched down in the end zone again.
Camas was back within 16 points of Skyline with about nine minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter, but the Papermakers couldn’t get any closer than that.
Now you can love. Now you can lose. Now you can choose. That’s the measure of a man.
The Camas boys who walked off that football field for the last time in 2012 had become men. It showed in their actions and in their passionate responses to the media.
“We really showed how much we as a team and community love football,” Hennessey said. “Even though we were down at the end, our fans where still cheering for us. That ‘We love Camas’ chant meant so much to us.”
In time, so will that third place trophy. The Papermakers got their heart broken tonight, but head coach Jon Eagle said they can look at themselves in the mirror tomorrow and be proud because they fought hard all the way to the bitter end.
That’s the measure of a man.
"The Measure of a Man" lyrics by Elton John