The Papermakers put an exclamation point on their seventh consecutive league championship by flattening the Union Titans 49-13 at McKenzie Stadium Friday.
“There’s a great tradition here in Camas. Feels great to keep it going,” said senior linebacker and running back Michael Matthews.
The Camas High School football team has won 50 regular season games in a row, dating back to a non-league loss to Skyview Sept. 23, 2011. Union was the last team to beat Camas in a league game, Oct. 30, 2009, back when they were both 3A schools.
The Papermakers put Friday’s contest out of reach in a hurry by scoring 21 points in the first quarter. Jack Colletto and Ryan Rushall connected four times on the opening drive, including a 17-yard leaping snag by Rushall in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
Two blitzing tackles by Matthews on defense forced the Titans to turn the ball over on downs. On the very next play, Matthews took off with the football in his hands for a 19-yard touchdown run.
“You can’t fake excitement and love for the game,” Matthews said. “We kind of lost that spark late in league. It’s great to see us pick that back up, and hopefully we’ll carry that through the playoffs.”
Union finally sustained a drive and scored a touchdown, but the Papermakers blocked the extra-point kick. Camas then recovered an on-side kick to start its next drive with good field position. It wasn’t long before Cooper McNatt hauled in a 40-yard touchdown pass from Colletto.
“Just an amazing ball by Jack,” McNatt said. “The line gave him all day to throw it.”
The Titans surrendered the ball on downs, and the Papermakers picked up right where they left off in scoring position. Colletto and McNatt hooked up on a short pass and run to get near the goal line. Will Schultz crossed it on a 5-yard dash for a touchdown.
The Camas defense forced Union to fumble the ball. McNatt picked it up and took it back to the Titan 32-yard line. Matthews punched in his second touchdown to give Camas a 35-6 advantage at halftime.
David Aarhus recovered a fumble for Camas at the beginning of the third quarter. He missed seven games recovering from surgery to repair a fracture in his foot.
“When we got tired or practice got hard, we said, ‘Think about David. What would he give to be out here in this hard practice,'” Matthews said. “It made us realize football’s not forever. It can end at any moment.”
Colletto ran for two touchdowns in the third quarter to put the Papermakers up by 43 points and set off the running clock.
Camas (9-0) hosts Enumclaw (5-4) in the first round of the playoffs Friday. Kickoff is at 6 p.m., at Doc Harris Stadium.
“You just got to keep getting better every week,” McNatt said. “Just climb all the way to your apex, hopefully in the dome.”
Tradition between these players runs deep. For some of them, all the way back to when they won a Clark County Youth Football championship in fifth grade.
“I look forward to coming to practice every day,” Matthews said. “We all hang out. It’s not like we have friends outside of football. These are our friends, and I think it really shows on the field.
“You can tell that it’s just a bunch of best friends playing backyard football like we did in the fifth grade,” he added. “It’s fun for us, really fun.”