The Papermakers scored 56 points for Logan Grindy Friday, and didn’t give up any.
On a night when the senior quarterback could not play because of a fractured fibula, the Camas High School football players, coaches and students remembered these important words from University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
“The most important thing of any team is a winning attitude,” he said. “The coaches must have it. The players must have it. The student body must have it. If you have dedicated players who believe in themselves, you have already won.”
Not bad advice from a coach who won 323 games and five national championships. The Papermakers took those words to heart Friday, and put together one of their best performances as a team in school history to beat Rainier Beach and get back to state for the first time since 2007.
“It was tough without Logan, but we knew we could do it together,” said junior running back Zack Marshall. “We’re a great team, and we’re going to keep climbing all the way to the top.”
Marshall might have scored four touchdowns in the first half, but in Grindy’s absense all eyes inside Doc Harris Stadium were on quarterback Tony Gennaro. The junior delivered four touchdown passes to four different receivers.
“This is something I’ll never forget. I couldn’t have done it without the team. They were all the help this week,” Gennaro said. “Everybody had so much confidence in me, and they let me know about it. They gave me the confidence to go out and play the way I did tonight.”
Camas racked up 35 points in the second quarter. Gennaro connected with Marshall on an 18-yard touchdown pass, and Marshall added two TD runs. Addison Owen made a nice snag in the air for Gennaro’s second touchdown.
“It’s amazing how Tony stepped up. He came through for us big time,” Owen said. “I just wanted to get him one and give him a pat on the back. Let him know I’m here for him and I support him.”
Gennaro said his favorite touchdown pass went up the middle to Miguel Salamanca for 24 yards. The senior split the defenders and tumbled into the end zone before they could catch him.
“I’ll never forget the look on his face. It was like, ‘I’m wide open, give me the ball,” Gennaro said. “Everybody put the work in to get this win. We all play as one.”
The Papermakers were up 42-0 at halftime, and had not allowed Rainier Beach to get a first down in the entire first half.
“It was the best start of the game we could have, and it was the way we needed to play all year,” said senior linebacker Ikaika Gunderson. “At halftime, we were all really pumped. None of us wanted to be in that locker room. We all wanted to be back on the field.”
After intercepting two passes on defense, Jeremy Faulkner caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Gennaro to begin the running clock with nine minutes to go in the third quarter.
“Everybody did something tonight to help us win a ball game. I was in the right place at the right time on those plays, and made it happen,” Faulkner said. “We proved we’re a team tonight. It’s not just one individual.”
Julian Samuels scored a touchdown for Camas in the fourth quarter. Rainier Beach did not get a first down until the final two minutes of the game.
“The kids did everything we asked them in terms of preparation, offense, defense and tackling,” said head coach Jon Eagle. “All of the things we talked about, they had it covered. It’s just a great group of kids, and they’re fun to watch.”
Camas (10-0) challenges Juanita of Kirkland (9-1) Saturday for its first state playoff victory in school history. Kickoff is at 6 p.m., at Doc Harris Stadium. The Papermakers defeated Juanita for the Oregon State University football camp championship this past summer.
“We’ve seen them before, and we know they have a lot of talented players,” Eagle said. “But, we know we’re pretty good too.”
Camas also knows there is no better place to play football than at home. Doc Harris Stadium did not stop rocking around the clock Friday. The band played on and on, the cheerleaders jumped higher and the fans cheered louder.
“I don’t think there is a better place to play,” Faulkner said. “This community gets behind you, and makes these games pretty special.”