The Camas football players snagged a small trophy from their first trip to the Tacoma Dome. Next time, they want to bring home the big one.
“What it all came down to was missed opportunities,” said head coach Jon Eagle. “We had our chances to score, but you got to be able to come away with sevens and not threes.
“It’s too bad it had to end so fast and so hard,” he added. “Unless you win it all, it never ends pretty.”
O’Dea of Seattle earned a 21-13 victory over the Papermakers Friday, in the 3A state semifinals. The Fighting Irish grabbed an 11-point advantage in the first half. Camas cut the lead down to one in the third quarter, but couldn’t come up with any more points in the fourth. Despite their shortcomings in this game, the Papermakers made history this season by finishing third in state. They are the first Camas football team to play in the Tacoma Dome.
“Some day, we’ll be back here and it’s because of these seniors,” Eagle said. “We had 47 freshmen come out for football four years ago, and 14 of these guys stayed. We rode the backs of those 14, and they took us further than any Camas team has before.”
Not a bad legacy for these Papermakers. Seniors Scott Feather, Chris Galusha, Max Goss, John Payne and Jonathan Warner cemented it with one final embrace at the 50-yard line.
“We can look in the mirror tonight and know that we made history,” Payne said. “We’re all brothers and we love each other. That’s never going to change.”
Football is Payne’s gain. He had the pleasure of playing it in the home of the Seattle Seahawks, at Doc Harris Stadium and now in the Tacoma Dome.
“I just love to play the game,” Payne said. “It didn’t matter where we were, I just wanted to play with my brothers.”
With Camas driving for the lead in the third quarter, Payne tracked the ball over his shoulder, leaped out and made a spectacular diving catch. As his body skipped across the goalline like a rock, Payne lost possession of the ball when a defender stepped on his hand. The official had already ruled that Payne was down a few yards back, and so the Papermakers had a first-and-goal.
Camas lost several yards on the next three plays and settled for a field goal try. The 38-yard kick from Roldan Alcobendas hit the left goal post, but the ball fell through on the right side for three points.
“My heart stopped,” Alcobendas said. “After the kick, I looked up and just prayed that ball would stay, stay and go through. I’m so glad that it did.”
Alcobendas nailed a 21-yard field goal in the second quarter to score the first three points for Camas at the Tacoma Dome. He also pinned O’Dea deep in its own territory on kick offs and punts.
“I feel honored to score the first points for Camas. I’ve got a bunch of great guys blocking for me,” Alcobendas said. “Field position is such a big part in football, and it’s where we dominated a lot this year.”
The most exciting play by the Papermakers came right out of the shoot in the third quarter. After a 14-yard kick return by Dalton DeBord, Warner caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tony Gennaro.
“That was a great moment,” Gennaro said. “It was the last touchdown pass I’m ever going to throw to him. I wish they were all that easy.”
Warner had tunnel-vision.
“It was surreal. I just caught it and ran,” he said. “I didn’t even realize what happened until I got to the sideline, and then it hit me. ‘Hey, I just scored a touchdown.'”
Warner finished with four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Zach Eagle added five catches for 76 yards. Zack Marshall took six carries for 51 yards in the first quarter, before he was forced out of the game by a dislocated thumb. Nate Beasley stepped up in Marshall’s absence with nine carries for 76 yards rushing. He also had two big runs for 23 and 37 yards.
Camas covered all of its bases as a football community Friday. The band played non-stop, the cheerleaders rallied the troops, the players hit hard and the fans yelled loud. In the final seconds, chants of “we love Camas” echoed around the building.
“We’re all about pride in Camas,” Warner said. “We never give up.”