There is nothing like football in Camas, even when it is played 177 miles away.
Qwest Field is supposed to be Seahawks’ territory. On Saturday, it sounded a lot like Doc Harris Stadium.
You could hear the Camas High School marching band playing “Papermakers go rolling along” after every touchdown, and you could join the cheerleaders in a rendition of the “Hand Jive” before the fourth quarter.
“We could have been anywhere,” said senior lineman Odin Coe. “All our guys wanted to do was come out and play.”
Odin and his teammates had butterflies in their tummies when it came time to walk out of the tunnel and on to the field.
“All I could think about is, it’s finally here,” Coe said. “All of the training we did all winter and summer was about to pay off. Let’s go.”
It took the Papermakers some time to get comfortable playing in an NFL stadium. By the second half, it was Camas’ house.
Zach Marshall rushed for three touchdowns, and Brent Hill caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Logan Grindy. Jeremy Faulkner, Damon Kosaki and John Payne picked off interceptions, and Ikaika Gunderson grabbed a fumble. The team effort led the Papermakers to a 29-15 victory over Timberline of Lacey.
“After months and months of preparation and waiting, it felt so good to go out there and get it done,” Marshall said. “It wasn’t just me. Our O-line did great blocking for me. It was a team effort.”
Marshall’s first two TDs came on rushes at the goal line. Early in the fourth quarter, he finally got out in the open and showed what he could do. Miguel Salamanca threw in a block, and Marshall was off to the races for a 19-yard touchdown run.
“I was just running all over the place, and looking for somewhere to go,” Marshall said. “I got a little help, and I was able to break loose and get in the end zone. It felt so good.”
Marshall’s big run followed a dynamic interception by Payne. The junior tipped the ball up in the air twice to keep it alive before coming down with it in his grasp.
A fumble recovery by Gunderson early in the third quarter shifted the momentum in favor of Camas. At that point, the game was tied 15-15. A few minutes later, Grindy lobbed the ball in the air and Hill made the catch over his shoulder for the touchdown.
Gunderson got a cut above his nose for his dirty work on defense. By the time he noticed it in the locker room after the game, blood had trickled down his cheeks and dried up. Gunderson summed it up as a battle scar.
“We’ll remember this game, and this win, for the rest of our lives,” Gunderson said. “We want to come back this way in November. That’s our goal.”
Camas showcased a balanced attack on the big stage. Marshall rushed for 67 yards and three touchdowns, and Grindy passed for 211 yards and a touchdown. Zach Anderson snatched five catches for 61 yards, Salamanca added four catches for 60 yards, Kyle Ervin earned two catches for 32 yards and Hill had two catches for 24 yards and a touchdown.
Although head coach Jon Eagle enjoyed watching the offense come alive in the second half, he said the day belonged to the defense.
“We were playing great defense, with a physical style of play,” he said. “We really stymied a talented offensive team. I just enjoyed watching our kids hit. It was fun to watch.”
Eagle also enjoyed giving Seattle a little taste of Camas.
“It’s real neat to see the support from our community. It means a lot to our kids,” he said. “Having the band, the cheerleaders and all the fans there was cool to see.”
The Papermakers play Mountain View Friday, at McKenzie Stadium in Vancouver. Kick off is at 7 p.m.