State football champions are ready to defend

Camas players thrive in electric atmosphere

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Camas Papermakers jump for joy before the start of football practice Monday, at Cardon Field.

Excitement for football hasn’t eclipsed in Camas.

Although this is not the same group of athletes that led the Papermakers to the state championship nine months ago, these boys are bound and determined to stand together and become a family, chase their own dreams through hard work and dedication, and continue to make Camas proud.

“Having fewer returning players is scary, but the guys that we have out here stepped up in the summer, and I can see guys stepping into the roles that we need,” said senior linebacker and receiver Luke Bruno. “Camas is always about family. We try to embrace that as much as possible. No guy out here is left out. Every man has a role.”

The Papermakers played 14 complete games last season and became champions. Even guys who weren’t starting, were playing in the third and fourth quarters, so they have the experience. Now, the time has come for them to earn more minutes and opportunities to contribute on the field.

“Obviously, it was a great experience winning state,” Bruno added. “This year, we’re using that experience. Playing 14 games and winning them and trying to repeat success. Understanding that it’s about every little detail. You have to win every single day if you want to win a season. Every year, the goal is to win as many games as we can. Nothing is changing here. It’s just another year. We have a new group of guys coming in and we’re still working hard every day.”

Head coach Jon Eagle said expectations have never been higher for this team. He has seen a lot of pleasant surprises as the athletes continue to get taller, longer, bigger, faster and stronger.

“I think high expectations are a good thing. It’s good for everybody; I don’t care what you do,” Eagle said. “What’s the alternative? You got low expectations, and nobody thinks much of you. I like the high expectations. I think the players do, too. The culture, the environment and the atmosphere is strong.”

Jordan Howes returns to the front line as the team’s center. He said he learned a lot about heart from the seniors he played with last year.

“A good line will determine whether you have a good team or not,” Howes said. “There are a lot of big hearts out here. I think all of us want to prove we can be just as good as last year’s team. We just have to stick together and not get tired of the grind.”

What Bruno learned from last year is that anyone can step up and be a leader. It’s all about making the most out of every practice, weightlifting and film study session. Those are the essential building blocks to becoming “Mean Machines.”

“There’s a lot of energy out here. We’re just trying to stay as electric as we can,” Bruno said. “Keeping guys positive and motivated through these five-, six-hour days is a challenge, but it just has to happen if you want to have a good season.”