The Thunder cackled, but the Papermakers kept climbing and reached the Greater St. Helens summit.
Jordan Del Moral delivered three touchdowns in the second half to help the Camas football team conquer Mountain View 35-17 Friday, at McKenzie Stadium.
“Camas is known as league champions,” Del Moral said. “Now it’s ours. It’s something we can say that we did. It’s very prideful for our team.”
This victory and the wins against Evergreen, Skyview, Battle Ground and Union in the past five weeks led the Papermakers to their sixth consecutive league championship.
“It’s always an accomplishment to win a league championship,” said head coach Jon Eagle. “This group of guys came together and put in a lot of time and effort to get to this point.”
Camas quarterback Liam Fitzgerald capped off a 79-yard opening drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. Mountain View turned two fumbles into a touchdown and a field goal to take a 10-7 advantage at the beginning of the second quarter.
Pressure shifted to the defense, but the Papermakers were up to the challenge.
“Every day is about dedication and working hard. That’s what we do in practice every day to get ready for these games,” said senior linebacker Manase Nguamo. “It’s not just one person tackling, it’s everybody. It’s great to see your brothers having your back.”
The scales tipped back in Camas’ favor on an interception by Jack Colletto. Hunter Bruno snagged a 14-yard pass from Fitzgerald in the end zone to put the Papermakers back up 14-10. Bruno also intercepted a pass just before halftime and Camas went into the locker room with a slim lead.
Neither team could gain an advantage in the third quarter until the Papermakers forced and recovered a fumble in scoring range. Camas struck quickly for seven more points on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Fitzgerald to Del Moral.
“Liam’s got that eye for the open receiver,” Del Moral said. “They forgot all about me and I was able to walk into the end zone.”
Camas faced third-and-26 after a penalty and fumble. Fitzgerald and Jared Bentley made up 24 of those yards on a pass play. The Papermakers decided to go for it on fourth down and three yards away from the end zone. Del Moral carried the ball across the goal line again.
“Great protection from the line and we got the touchdown,” Eagle said. “That play was huge.”
Mountain View scored one more touchdown in the fourth quarter. Del Moral and the Camas offensive linemen responded by working together to create a 42-yard touchdown run.
“We just wanted to kill the will, and the offense executed perfectly,” Del Moral said.
Camas hosts Heritage for its last league game Friday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m., at Doc Harris Stadium.
“Homecoming and Senior Night should be a great way to end the regular season,” Del Moral said. “It goes by quick. We want to enjoy every minute and live in the moment.”
There are more mountains for the Papermakers to climb in the playoffs. And the league championship gives them home field advantage.
“After putting in hours and hours on end, it’s pretty special to be able to experience this together,” said senior linebacker Luke Grindy. “We just want to come out strong, whether that means making it all the way and winning it or making it one more game. We want to know that we left it all on the field and played every play like it was our last.”