After a four quarter throttle Saturday in Sammamish, the Camas High School football team defeated Eastlake 47-28 to get back to the Tacoma Dome for the third year in a row.
The Papermakers play Bellarmine Prep in the semifinals of the state tournament Saturday. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. Camas wants to smash through that glass ceiling and win at the Tacoma Dome for the first time.
“We’re on our final countdown,” said senior quarterback Reilly Hennessey. “We only have two weeks left in our high school career. How do we want to be remembered?
“There’s just 14 days left,” he added. “We better make sure we get better every single one of those days.”
The Papermakers proved they could take a few punches in the stomach and still stand tall at the end of the day. Eastlake scored two touchdowns in a row to cut the Camas lead to five points late in the third quarter.
“That was a football game, right there,” said head coach Jon Eagle. “We got punched in the gut and we punched back. We got pushed on the ropes and we pushed back. I can’t wrap my mind around all the plays these kids made.”
Nate Beasley gave the Papermakers some breathing room with a 15-yard touchdown run. He then delivered a big hit on defense to knock the ball out of the hands of an Eastlake player. Wolves’ quarterback Blue Thomas kept finding his receivers open down field, and they pushed to the Camas 39-yard line as the third quarter came to a close.
Eastlake had an inch to gain on the next third down, but the Papermakers busted through the line and tackled the running back for a loss of two yards. The Wolves went for it on fourth down, and once again the Camas defense made the stop to get the ball back.
“All year long, we’ve been waiting for this game to see if we could face adversity,” Hennessey said. “These guys dug down and found something extra buried deep in the rib cage.”
Camas fumbled the ball well into its next drive. Eastlake had another opportunity, but this time their scrambling quarterback couldn’t get away from Matt Walser. The Papermakers got the ball after another stop on fourth down, but they couldn’t get anything going on the next three plays and had to punt.
Eastlake completed two passes for first downs, but then John Ashford and Jason Vailea chased a Wolf out of bounds. Eastlake was called for two holding penalties, and Walser sacked Thomas again. Facing a fourth down with 35 yards to go, the Wolves punted the ball back to Camas.
“I’m glad to say we stepped up as a team,” Vailea said. “A bunch of individuals were making great plays, but that wouldn’t happen without everybody doing their job.”
Beasley broke loose on the next play and left the ball on the 5-yard line. Vailea carried it across the goal line to put the Papermakers back up by 19 points.
“It shows that our team will keep fighting for our family,” Vailea said. “Our family is our team.”
Drew Lewis scored three touchdowns for Eastlake, including a 70-yard sprint into the end zone on the first play from scrimmage.
Camas countered on the wings of Zach Eagle. He made nine catches for 202 yards and had four touchdowns. Hennessey threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Beasley rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown. James Price snagged five passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Eagle tied the score on a reverse run for an 11-yard touchdown. Michael Johnson intercepted an Eastlake pass near the end zone to get the ball back. Camas took the lead when Price caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Hennessey.
The Wolves evened things up again with 3:14 left in the first half, before the Papermakers caught fire. Eagle and Hennessey hooked up on a 78-yard touchdown pass. Camas got the ball right back when Johnson wrapped up the running back, Beasley jarred the ball loose and Eagle returned it for a 19-yard touchdown.
“These guys battled hard for four quarters. Everyone did,” Eagle said. “I was prepared to be in the right spot, but it was a team effort on everything.”
Eastlake recovered its onside kick at the beginning of the third quarter, only to get picked off in the end zone by Jorden Payne.
“The big thing for us is never getting tired of the grind,” Payne said. “Whether it’s warm or cold, raining sideways or the buildings are falling down all around us; we just got to keep grinding.”
Eagle turned a quick strike by Hennessey into a 38-yard touchdown to make it 33-14 Papermakers.
“We all love each other and play for each other on every down,” Eagle said. “We don’t want this to end.”