Competition for playing time fuels the Camas and Washougal high school football players at the start of a brand new season.
Every day of practice is an opportunity for them to teach, learn and improve together.
“You want kids to compete to make themselves better. If every position gets better, the team gets better,” said Washougal head coach Dave Hajek. “Every kid has an opportunity to help this team be successful. How much they play depends on how hard they compete.”
Senior Doneald Holbert Jr. receives Hajek’s message loud and clear.
He strives to put a smile on all of his coach’s faces. He also encourages his teammates to make the most of every day they are on the field together.
“Practice every day like you have to earn something,” Holbert said.
Washougal won three of its last four football games in 2014 to finish the season with a winning record. This year, the Panthers are aiming for the playoffs.
Washougal starts off at home against the Stevenson Bulldogs Friday, Sept. 4. Kickoff is at 7 p.m., at Fishback Stadium.
“I remember coming to games when I was in elementary school, looking down at the field and wondering if I would ever be down there.” said Dakota Payne, a senior who plays wide receiver and defensive end. “Now that I am, it’s a surreal experience.
“We just want to start off with a win and get the wheel turning.”
Camas football fans will have to wait a few weeks to welcome the Papermakers back to Doc Harris Stadium. Camas travels east to Pasco to play Chiawana High School Friday, Sept. 4. The Papermakers then head north to Federal Way Saturday, Sept. 12.
Camas head coach Jon Eagle hopes these two road trips bring the Papermakers closer together as they attempt to win their sixth straight league championship.
“We want our kids to have an opportunity to play in the Tri-Cities. Then, we’ll turn around and travel to the Seattle area,” Eagle said.
Camas defeated Chiawana 16-14 during the first game of the 2014 season. Chiawana reached the state championship game and lost to Bothell.
“It’s going to be tough,” said senior lineman Trevor Wochnick. “We’re going to go out there and try to prove we can compete with the best team in the state, right off the bat.”
“We want to prove that last year’s win was not a fluke,” said senior tight end Blake Roy.
Camas hasn’t forgotten about losing to Bellarmine Prep in the first round of the state tournament. Roy said it taught the Papermakers not to take any team for granted.
“Nobody wants to lose on their home field. We did that last year,” he said. “We’re trying to work harder every day to get that win for everybody.”