Rekindling an old flame

Panthers and Papermakers meet on the football field for the first time since 2008

On June 12 at Cardon Field, the Camas and Washougal high school football players and coaches welcomed the opportunity to play a game against each other for the first time in nearly four years.

“There’s a connection with these kids through youth football,” said Washougal head coach Bob Jacobs. “The rivalry goes back to like 1913. We don’t want to lose that. We’re just in a situation where we need to grow before we can get on a more even playing field.”

There were no personal vendettas and no scores kept. When the game was over, the Panthers and the Papermakers shook hands and patted each other on the back. It was something you wouldn’t expect to see from two rival schools who have been each other’s worst enemies for more than a century.

“This is really what sports is all about. It’s about bringing people together,” said Camas head coach Jon Eagle. “What you saw from the kids and coaches after the game was genuine. We have a lot of respect for them and the feeling is mutual.”

Washougal played scrimmage games against Hockinson, Rainier and Woodland high schools at a spring jamboree on June 9, in Woodland. Guy LaRue was 9-for-9 passing, Bobby Jacobs scored four touchdowns and had an interception, Marcus Cannon made a great catch for a touchdown, and Austin Tofell and Dan Arzhanov also scored touchdowns.

“We have great kids here in Washougal. They work hard and they’re fun to coach,” Jacobs said. “The key for us is to continue to develop through our middle school and youth programs.

“It’s one of those things where you have to water your own lawn. The youth program feeds into the middle schools and the middle schools feed into the high school,” he added. “We want to build those relationships with the younger kids and the coaches, and make Washougal a place where people want to play football. I think we’re headed in that direction.”

Although Eagle and Jacobs are open to the idea of another scrimmage between Camas and Washougal in the future, neither coach is willing to commit to a game on the schedule.

“I am very respectful for the tradition between Camas and Washougal, but I’m also cognisant of the differences in school size and population,” Jacobs said. “Camas has become a powerhouse. We’re still learning and growing.

“It wasn’t that long ago that we were an 0-9 team,” he continued. “Maybe down the road, if we can get a little bit bigger, we can bring back the rivalry. Where we’re at right now, getting 30 guys on varsity is pretty good.”

In recent years, Camas football teams have had up to 30 seniors alone. This spring, there are already 120 Papermakers on the field. Eagle expects that number to jump up to 150 by the fall.

“It’s nobody’s fault the two teams are no longer playing each other. It’s just a reality,” Eagle said. “I would love for Washougal to have 70 more kids out, and then play a game. They have got great kids who have talent, they just don’t have enough depth.”

Camas, Skyview, Prairie, Eastside Catholic, Ferndale, Olympia, Peninsula and Yelm will participate in the Oregon State University football camp, June 22 to 25, in Corvallis. The goal for the spring and summer camps is for the Papermakers to get on the same page.

“As a team develops, everybody is a piece of the puzzle,” Eagle said. “They all come in different shapes and sizes, but without having all of those pieces together, you can’t solve the puzzle.”