Striking while the gridiron is hot

Weather heats up just in time for the return of football

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Jordan Downey lets the water drip down his face during a 98-degree day in Camas.

It was a sweltering 98 degrees when the Camas Papermakers started throwing the football around Friday, at Cardon Field.

“I think it’s hotter than yesterday,” said one of the players.

“That turf is at least 15 degrees warmer,” responded head coach Jon Eagle.

It might be too early to do the math, but you didn’t have to be a meteorologist to determine it was hot. Steam rose up from the gridiron and the Papermakers felt like they were running on hot coals. It stayed that way until the sun tucked behind the trees and the temperature in the shade became just a little bit more bearable.

“It’s great to be back out with the guys,” said senior linebacker John Norcross. “It’s hot, but it’s enjoyable. We’re all having a lot of fun.”

The Washougal Panthers experienced relief from the heat during practice Monday night.

“It was almost unbearable. Fortunately, the coaches took it easy and water us a lot,” said junior lineman Christian Edminson. “It’s a small town. We could either hang out by the river or be playing a sport we all love. This is where we all want to be.”

Camas (11-2) reached the semifinals of the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome for the first time in school history. This fall, the Papermakers are moving up to the 4A Greater St. Helens League. They will continue their rivalry with Skyview, rekindle their old flame with Union and discover new challenges against Battle Ground, Evergreen and Heritage.

“We got a taste of it last year, and now we want more,” Norcross said. “We want the whole meal this time, not just the appetizer.”

Washougal won its first six games of the season, before losing the final three, and falling out of the playoff race.

“It didn’t take us long to realize that we just made a couple mistakes,” Edminson said. “We are much more aware of what we need to do this time around, and that makes us a stronger unit.”

Camas begins the season at Oregon City Friday, Aug. 31, and then hosts Canby, Ore., Friday, Sept. 7, at Doc Harris Stadium. Oregon City reached the state semifinals last season, but lost to Canby earlier in the year.

“This is the moment you have dreamed about your whole life, to step out on that field and play football for your community,” said junior quarterback Reilly Hennessey.

Washougal faces Hudson’s Bay Aug. 31, at Kiggins Bowl in Vancouver. The Panthers then play at Tenino Sept. 7, before hosting Fort Vancouver, Friday, Sept. 14, at Fishback Stadium.

“We’re all ready and we’re all antsy,” Edminson said. “It’s an indescribable feeling to be under the lights.”