Overtime nightmare

Lakes escapes Camas with a 27-24 victory in the state quarterfinals

A touchdown delivered through the air by Addison Owen appeared to put the Papermakers over the top, but the Lancers won Friday’s state quarterfinal joust at Doc Harris Stadium in overtime.

Owen’s flight into the end zone gave Camas a 21-14 lead with five minutes to go in the third quarter. Any sort of celebration was subdued moments later when junior linebacker Javon Ingram suffered a stinger and left the game on a stretcher. The Lancers pierced through the shaken Papermakers and tied the game with less than two minutes to go in the third. After both teams missed field goals in the final three minutes of the game, fans were treated to extra football.

Camas took the ball first to begin overtime. Owen gained 6 yards on a couple of runs, but the Papermakers failed to get a first down and had to go for another field goal. Heartbroken over his miss in the fourth quarter, Roldan Alcobendas redeemed himself by kicking the ball 36 yards through the uprights to give Camas a 24-21 lead.

The Papermakers needed just one more stop to advance to the semifinals at the Tacoma Dome. After a couple of gang tackles by Brent Hill, Ikaika Gunderson and the rest of the Camas defenders, Lakes faced a fourth down with 3 yards to go. Unsure of another field goal try, the Lancers went for it and gained a first down. Another big run followed, and suddenly Lakes was 2 yards away from winning the game.

The Lancers tried to punch it in, but Jeremy Faulkner got down on all fours and pushed the runner back. An offsides call against Lakes and a couple more tackles by Camas made it fourth down with 5 yards to go.

Again, the Lancers went for broke and again they converted. Levonte Littlejohn evaded three diving Papermakers and crossed the goal line for his third touchdown of the night. Lakes celebrated an amazing 27-24 overtime victory, while Camas could do nothing to turn back time.

“We are all extremely proud of the way our kids played. They really, truly left everything they had on the field,” said head coach Jon Eagle. “It’s just tough that it had to end that way. It never ends well, unless you win the whole thing.”

Pain could be seen on the faces of the Camas football players, coaches and fans. Eagle told them all it will hurt for awhile, but there are plenty of accomplishments to celebrate.

“These guys won 11 games, and became the first team from Camas to get to the quarterfinals. That means something,” Eagle said. “The seniors are sad that it’s all over, and we’re sad that we have to say ‘goodbye’ to them, but these guys will always be remembered as the ones that got us this far. They’re going to be successful in whatever endeavors they pursue.”

The Papermakers made some big plays, but could not keep Lakes at bay. Jon Payne recovered a fumble, but Camas could not take advantage of the extra opportunity. After the Lancers tied the game at 7-7, quarterback Tony Gennaro fired a beautiful pass down the left sidelines and Jonathan Warner leaped up and snatched the football out of the sky to put the Papermakers back up 14-7.

“I just had to get that one. Not do it for myself, but do it for the team,” Warner said. “I hope people look back and say we were the best. We gave it all for this community and for our team.”

“We were just a bunch of guys who loved football, and we worked hard every day,” Payne said. “If we could start everything over, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Although injuries to Logan Grindy and Zack Marshall could have raised doubt, Eagle said it only brought these Papermakers closer together.

“Injuries are a part of football. They happen, and it’s not anybody’s fault,” he said. “We look at injuries as an opportunity for other kids to step up and help the team. That’s what we’re trying to teach these kids.”

Senior lineman Odin Coe gave a lot of credit for his growth to weightlifting coach and trainer Mark Riehl.

“He built us up to become champions,” Coe said. “Hopefully, we set a good example for the kids who are coming up.

“It’s not so much about the wins and losses. This senior class worked so hard, and gave everything they had for this community,” he added. “I went to the weight room every morning before school with Eric Clay, Brent Hill, Damon Kosaki and Addison Owen. We can’t say we didn’t work hard enough.”

Gunderson said the Camas football class of 2010 was “a band of brothers.” One defining sound that will echo through the grandstands at Doc Harris Stadium for years to come.

“Nothing could compare with the connection we had on the football field,” Gunderson said. “Good friends getting together on the football field every day is what I think will be missed the most.”

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