The new Camas quarterback was ready when he was needed
CAMAS — He was not supposed to be in this position, but he is in this position because he is the type of teammate that a championship-caliber football team needs.
Oh, he certainly wanted to be in this position. Just not they way he made it here.
Blake Asciutto would have preferred being the starting quarterback since the beginning of the season. A senior, he was in competition with a friend, a junior. That friend, Jake Blair, won the job.
Disappointed, but not discouraged, Asciutto just kept practicing, preparing.
No one wanted to see Blair get injured.
When Blair did go down in Week 8, though, no one associated with the Camas football team thought the team’s goals had to change.
They knew the leader and the talent who was second string but about to become the starter.
Asciutto took over, and the Camas Papermakers are still undefeated, still after the top prize.
Saturday, Asciutto and the Papermakers will take on Bothell in the WIAA Class 4A state championship game at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
“I still watched a lot of film when I wasn’t a starter,” Asciutto said. “If I had to go in, what could I do to help the team?”
Still, in his first possessions right after the Blair injury, not a lot went right for the offense. Camas did not score in the final two quarters of that game and Asciutto was 2 for 8 passing. The Papermakers got the win that night, but it was a shaky offensive performance for Asciutto.
Yet, he was not concerned.
With head coach Jon Eagle and assistant coach Chuck Hawthorne prepping him for the whole week, he said knew he would play better in Week 9. Asciutto threw two touchdown passes in the win over rival Union.
He threw two more touchdown passes in the Week 10 state preliminary round game.
“I was confident in myself. My teammates were confident in me,” Asciutto said. “That really helped. I felt I could come in here and play as if I was starting the whole season.”
Undefeated through 10 games, which included a tough schedule, the Papermakers had a chance to be the No. 1 seed going into the state playoffs. Instead, Camas got a No. 2 seed. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that Camas did not get a No. 1 because of the question mark at QB.
The Papermakers took it personally.
“We felt we were the best team in the state since we were freshmen,” Asciutto said of this class. “To get a 2-seed … that put a chip on our shoulder.”
Asciutto had a 300-yard game in the first round of state with two touchdown passes. In the quarterfinals, he threw for 257 of his 266 yards in the first half with three touchdown passes. And in the semifinals, he threw for 210 yards and a touchdown, including 180 yards in the first half.
He credits Blair for some of that success, too. Each quarterback has his strengths.
“I came into the season hoping to start. We’re really good friends, but at the same time, battled against each other,” Asciutto said.
The coaches picked Blair, who has better running skills.
“He’s faster. I’m more of a pocket passer, which is perfect for us,” Asciutto said. “Teams that see our film, they see a guy who gets out of the pocket, runs a little bit. And now they have to adjust to me, more of a pocket passer, staying in there, throwing those tight-window passes.”
Well, there are no more secrets. Blair went 8-0 for the Papermakers, and now there is plenty of Asciutto, 5-0 as the starter.
He said he never seriously thought of moving elsewhere, hoping to play more. Camas is home. Camas is family.
He also said this team is full of guys who were not starters but had to step up due to injuries. He specifically noted running back Randy Yaacoub.
Asciutto could have gone his whole senior year without playing the position he loves. Now, he is getting ready to start in a state championship game.
With his personal history, he is in another leadership position — an authority to give advice to a younger player who finds himself in a reserve role.
“There are so many ways to help the team out,” he said. “Stick with it. You never know when there is going to be an injury and you have to step up.”
Be ready for that call.
Championship-worthy teams are full of those guys.