The final football game of the season at Doc Harris Stadium couldn’t have gone any better for Camas.
Several Papermakers contributed to a 55-6 smashing of Graham-Kapowsin Nov. 11, a team that averaged 53 points a game coming into the Sweet 16.
“I didn’t see that coming at all. They’re a very good football team. We just played our best game of the year,” said Camas head coach Jon Eagle. “Phenomenal performance by our whole community. We’re proud of the effort and just the enthusiasm that they bring to the game.”
Ryan Rushall caught two first down passes on the game’s opening drive for Camas. Quarterback Jack Colletto then found Cooper McNatt wide open in the end zone and completed a 5-yard touchdown pass. The Papermakers failed to get the extra point.
A gutsy play by Graham-Kapowsin on fourth down allowed the Eagles to continue their drive and score a touchdown. Isaiah Abdul blocked the extra-point kick for Camas to keep the score tied at 6-6.
What happened next was a crazy play that gave the Papermakers the lead for good. Drake Owen caught a short pass on third down and made a nice cut to get into the open field. A defender came up from behind and popped the ball out of Owen’s hands. Michael Matthews was quickly in pursuit of the ball as it bounced into the end zone. He dove on it and scored a touchdown.
Matthews was moving in the other direction when Owen made the catch. He turned around, followed the play and picked up a block. That’s when he saw the ball was free.
“I was just kind of in the right spot, took off for it and thankfully I was the first one to the ball,” Matthews said. “Camas is built on hustle. If I’m not hustling, I don’t make that play. That’s a huge momentum change. Little hustle plays go a long ways.”
Soon, it became clear that the Eagles had never faced a defense like this Mean Machine. David Aarhus, Tanner Howington, Dylan Ingram, Matthews and Marshall McIvor were relentless up front. Colletto and Luke Bruno intercepted passes in the backfield.
“Playing on Veteran’s Day, that’s close to my heart,” McIvor said. “I looked up in the stands and just saw a sea of red, white and blue. There’s nothing more I could ask for as a player.
“Camas always has a great crowd, but tonight was like no other,” he added. “I think everyone knew that it was the seniors’ last night at their house, where they have been playing the last four years and grinding and grinding and grinding. We’ve played a lot of good games here, and I think we just wanted to top it off with an even better one.”
And the Camas offense just continued to roll. Christian Nghiem caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Colletto to give the Papermakers a 20-6 advantage before the end of the first quarter. Colletto then delivered a 32-yard touchdown run, a 32-yard interception return in front of the end zone and a 64-yard touchdown run.
“Coach said, ‘this is what it looks like when we’re ready to play.’ Proud of everybody,” Colletto said. “We’re not done. We’re focused. Another great week of practice. Keep getting better.”
Matthews sacked the quarterback to force Graham-Kapowsin to punt at the beginning of the third quarter. He then dove across the goal line on offense to complete a 4-yard touchdown run.
Bruno’s interception gave the Papermakers an opportunity to go up by 42 points. Elias Bashir broke free for a 34-yard touchdown run to jump start the running clock. Hunter Crandall ran in one more touchdown for Camas in the fourth quarter.
Camas (11-0) gets another crack at Skyline (9-2) in the state quarterfinals Saturday, in Samammish. The Spartans eliminated the Papermakers from the playoffs in 2015 and 2012.
“I really want to go up there and leave it all on the field,” McIvor said. “I was a junior last year, and I watched the seniors drop their heads at the end of the game. I’m hoping that’s not the same turnout.”
After that loss to Skyline last season, Colletto said something special is in store for this Camas football team. He believes that now more than ever.
“Everybody’s in the weight room working hard and nobody wants to give up,” he said. “There’s a lot of fight in us.”