CHS football team wins state championship

Papermakers complete ‘revenge tour,’ claim second title in 4 years

Camas High School's Robert Edwards, Jacques Badolato-Birdsell and Jake Blair line up with their teammates for the national anthem before the start of the 4A state championship game at Mount Tahoma Stadium on Dec. 7.

Camas High School's Jacques Badalato-Birdsell crosses the goal line with a 48-yard run in the second quarter of the 4A state championship game on Dec. 7. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

The Camas High School cheerleaders fire up the Papermakers faithful during halftime of the 4A state championship game at Mount Tahoma Stadium on Dec. 7. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Camas High School senior reciever Jackson Clemmer puts a move on defenders after catching a pass during the 4A state championship game in Tacoma on Dec. 7. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Camas High School's Jacques Badolato-Birdsell follows a block from senior offensive lineman Tristan Souza during the 4A state championship game on Dec. 7 in Tacoma. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Camas High School's Jacques Badolato-Birdsell flys head-first into the end zone for his second of three touchdowns in the 4A state championship game on Dec. 7. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

The 4A state championship trophy is held by junior Jacques Badolato-Birdsell as the Camas High School football team poses for photographs after beating Bothell High School on Dec. 7. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

The Camas High School football team's players rejoice after winning the 4A state championship for the second time in four years. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Camas High School senior linemen Caadyn Stephen suited up for the 4A state championship game on Dec. 7 after an injury kept him off the field most of the season. While he didn't get to play in theh Papermakers' 35-14 win over Bothell High School, the University of Southern California commit said playing for CHS is the best thing that's ever happened to him. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Camas High School quarterback Blake Asciutto throws a pass to Jackson Clemmer during the Papermakers' 35-14 win over Bothell High School on Dec. 7 in Tacoma. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Camas High School senior quarterback Blake Asciutto is interviewed after the 4A state championship game by photographer Bill Skok from KIRO-TV in Seattle. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Camas High School junior Jacques Badaldo-Birdsell gestures to Papermakers fans after his third rushing touchdown in the 4A state championship game on Dec. 7 in Tacoma. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Camas High School football coach Jon Eagle receives a Gatorade bath at the end of the 4A state championship game on Dec. 7 in Tacoma. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Joyful tears flow as the Camas High School football team enjoys its second state championship victory in four years. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Camas High School seniors Charlie Bump and Martin Knysh share an emotional moment following the Papermakers' state championship victory over Bothell High School on Dec. 7. (Photos by Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

An epic celebration erupted at Mount Tahoma Stadium in Tacoma on Saturday, Dec. 7, when Camas High School (CHS) senior quarterback Blake Asciutto kneeled to the turf on the final play of the 4A state championship game, sealing the Papermakers’ second title in the past four years.

At the same time, just 20 yards away on the sidelines, players dunked CHS head coach Jon Eagle with ice water, and emotions exploded like they were being uncorked from a giant champagne bottle.

“This is honestly the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” senior Randy Yaacoub said after the Papermakers beat Bothell High School (BHS) 35-14 to cap an undefeated season.

After going 5-5 last season and failing to qualify for the state tournament, the Papermakers dubbed the 2019 campaign as their “Revenge Tour,” which became the team’s motto throughout the season.

But the players likely never envisioned such a perfect ending to the team’s season-long quest for redemption; the Papermakers (14-0) beat all five teams that defeated them last season, including the Cougars, who ended their 2018 campaign with a one-point win in a Week 10 playoff game.

“We got to play Bothell again and we won. This means everything,” CHS senior linemen Tai Tumanuvao screamed after the game.

Players embraced each other, jumping up and down with adrenaline-fueled jubilation as officials walked onto the field with the state championship trophy. Junior running back Jacques Badolato-Birdsell clutched the trophy tight with both arms while posing for photographs with his teammates after rushing a career-high 34 times for 207 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

“Last year’s loss (to Bothell) really motivated us,” he said. “We did it. We showed them what we’ve got this year, and the brotherhood we’ve created here won’t be forgotten. I’m going to remember everything.”

After the photographs were taken, the players took the trophy to the fans, who were also erupting with blissful emotions in the packed grandstands.

“It’s so important that you can look back and see all the red in the stands,” said Eagle, drenched but smiling. “It means a lot. It makes a difference.”

‘This is real family’

As a cold mist returned to the stadium during the Papermakers’ post-game celebration, players reflected on their high school football journeys that began when they were freshmen in 2016 when CHS won its first state championship, defeating Richland High School in the Tacoma Dome for the title.

“Just watching that team play boosted all of us to seize this moment,” Yaacoub said. “We worked so hard to get here.”

The players said they’ll mostly remember the hard work they put in and the friendships that were created.

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. All those days getting up early and working out before school and getting all sweaty and not being able to even take a shower before school, it’s all worth it,” Asciutto said.

Senior linemen Caadyn Stephen, a University of Southern California commit who moved to Camas from Alaska last year to gain more exposure to college programs, sustained a season-ending back injury in September but stayed tight with his team, supporting the players from the sidelines during the championship game.

“I’m playing for the best high school team in the nation,” he said. “This place has changed my life. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better place or a better team or a better coach to play for.”

Senior Jackson Clemmer said the bond he shares with his teammates will be etched into their souls for life.

“This is a family,” he said. “Just look around at all these guys. This is real family and real emotions, and everyone is crying and just loving this incredible moment right now. Ten or 20 years from now we will all still be good friends because of what we just went through.”

CHS takes control early

After a day of heavy rain, the clouds and winds took a little break for the championship game and didn’t return until midway through the Papermakers’ victory celebration.

CHS took advantage of the favorable conditions and scored on its first possession of the game with a Badolato-Birdsell 5-yard touchdown run with 9 minutes, 33 seconds left in the first quarter, capping a seven-play, 85-yard drive.

On the Papermakers’ next possession, Badolato-Birdsell racked up 63 yards on nine carries, and Tyler Forner scored on a 1-yard run to give the Papermakers a 14-0 lead with 4:22 left in the first quarter.

Badolato-Birdsell struck again in the second quarter, taking a pitch 48 yards into the end zone to give CHS a 21-0 lead with 5:30 left in the first half.

BHS responded with a 6-yard touchdown catch by Blake Bickhaus with 56 seconds left in the second quarter.

The Cougars continued to move the ball on their first possession of the second half, and finished the drive with a 39-yard touchdown catch by Jordyn Turner to cut the Papermakers’ lead to 21-14.

Later in the third quarter, after a shanked punt gave CHS great field position, the Papermakers took advantage when Clemmer outmuscled two defenders for a 28-yard touchdown reception for a 28-14 CHS lead.

Both teams traded punts to begin the fourth quarter before the Cougars (11-3) turned the ball over on downs and the Papermakers went on a long drive which was capped by Badolato-Birdsell’s third touchdown of the game on a 3-yard rush, giving Camas a 35-14 lead with 2:45 left in the game.

Then Clemmer made another highlight-reel play, this time on defense with a one-handed interception on what turned out to be BHS’ final possession of the game.

“This whole week during practice we were focusing on No. 13 (Turner) because he’s a tall fast dude, so we knew we had to protect the deep ball,” Clemmer said. “My job was to stay deep and I just stayed deeper than him and somehow it happened.”

Forner led the Papermakers on defense with seven tackles and one sack. The stingy Camas defense limited the Cougars to 287 yards of total offense.