By Meg Wochnick
Columbian staff writer
In case anyone has forgotten, and it’s hard not to, the Class 4A state championship still has to run through the Camas Papermakers.
That’s what happens when you’re the defending state champions.
And Friday’s shutout victory, a 40-0 win over an Auburn Riverside team that averaged nearly 45 points a game in its nine regular-season games, might’ve been a statement, too.
The rest of the state now knows that Camas (9-1) isn’t going anywhere, despite its lone loss to end the regular season.
Now, the Papermakers are in the round of 16 and head east to open the Class 4A playoffs next weekend. They’ll face Central Valley of Veradale, a 43-17 winner over Hanford, likely next Saturday in Spokane. Win and they’re back home at Doc Harris Stadium for the state quarterfinals Nov. 17 or 18.
The shutout of the Ravens (8-2) at Auburn Memorial Stadium was the Papermakers’ second of the season. Its previous shutout came against Battle Ground to open 4A Greater St. Helens League play, but even more surprising was it came to open the playoffs, senior Isaiah Abdul said.
“They’re a really great team,” he said, “and to have zero points on the board, this really shows who we are as Camas.”
Abdul, senior lineman Jordan Howes, and the Papermakers looked at the playoffs as a new season, especially after last week’s heartbreaking 14-13 loss to Union, and a new opportunity to start fresh.
“More than anything, it humbled us,” Howes said. “It made us work harder and it drove us.”
“We were ready to play; we didn’t want to go home and didn’t want our season to end,” Abdul added. “It was win or be done, and we were ready to get after it.”
And boy, did they.
While the offense featured Kyle Allen’s 335 yards on 24 of 40 completions led by Drake Owens’ 141 yards on 10 catches and touchdown passes to Will Schultz (28 yards), Shane Jamison (10) and Ryan Rushall (38), the defense had perhaps its best game of the season. It had three sacks, a forced fumble by Schultz that led to Jamison’s eventual touchdown on the ensuing play for an eventual 17-0 halftime lead.
Then there was Abdul.
He intercepted Riverside quarterback Tiano Malietufa, but not before blocking an attempted 25-yard field goal by Riverside in the second quarter. It was one of two red-zone tries the Ravens were unable to convert in the quarter.
The other came on a fourth-and-8 from the 28 when Camas took over on downs. Riverside also tried to run two fake punts on Camas.
It worked once when Javon Forward successful ran 13 yards for a first-half first down. The other was stopped by Brogan Lane.
Schultz highlighted the night for the Papermakers as a two-way starter: he had a rushing and receiving touchdown, a forced fumble and taking it back 25 yards plus a sack. He finished with three catches for 68 yards and a touchdown as well as the team’s leading rusher and a 2-yard touchdown.
“That guy has heart,” Abdul said. “He showed true leadership.”