Papermakers claim Class 4A Greater St. Helens League title, head into the playoffs as the league’s No. 1 seed
CAMAS — The Camas Papermakers have called it the Revenge Tour all year long.
How about the No-Doubt-About-It Tour?
The Papermakers scored the first four touchdowns Friday night and held off rival Union to complete an undefeated regular season with a 28-14 victory at Doc Harris Stadium.
“This is huge. This is something we strive for. This is what the Camas football program is all about,” said Charlie Bump, who had one of three interceptions for the Papermakers defense. “Just glad we can bring it back.”
“It” would be the league title. Union won the last two league titles, with victories over Camas the past two seasons in Week 9.
No more, the Papermakers said. No more.
“It’s been a couple of years,” said quarterback Blake Ascuitto. “This year, we had to show. This is great.”
The Papermakers had a 5-4 regular season in 2018, finishing second in the 4A GSHL, then losing in the Week 10 playoff to end up 5-5.
This year, with the same schedule through nine games, the Papermakers wanted revenge on the four teams that beat them.
They completed that mission, outscoring those four opponents 128-35.
This team did it with a number of guys who had to step up, too.
Ascuitto was making his first start this season, in for the injured Jake Blair. Ascuitto threw two touchdown passes.
Running backs Tyler Forner and Jacques Badolato-Birdsell did play, but they were limited due to injuries. So Randy Yaacoub came in and got the job done in the second half.
Tight end Kenny Wright, not the usual target for long scoring plays, got one for the Papermakers, too.
That is how an injury-riddled squad remains unbeaten.
“Our running game opens it up,” Ascuitto said of his passing attack. He was 10 for 14 for 153 yards and two touchdowns. “Our offensive line is the best in the state. Our running back corps is the best in the state. Teams are really scared of our running game. That’s why we can pass. And our wide receivers are great.”
Camas scored on its first possession of the game on a 1-yard run on fourth down by Forner. It was 14-0 early in the second quarter when Ascuitto found Wright on a tight end screen that broke for a 54-yard score.
“We’ve been running that play since we were kids,” Wright said. “It was the perfect play call. Excellent blocking. I just saw the end zone.”
Yes, the blocks were there, but 20 yards downfield or so, Wright had to split a couple of defenders. Then he outraced them to the end zone.
“When I was a kid, I used to play running back. Then I grew,” said Wright, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. “I guess I still remember some stuff.”
Forner put the Papermakers up 21-0 later in the quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run. He finished with 76 yards on 19 carries.
The Titans found some life with a long drive right before the half. Camas’ Charlie Bump intercepted a pass in the end zone to kill that scoring chance.
“Our defense, we just said, ‘We are going to stop them,’” Bump said. “It all happened perfectly. I was just standing right in the perfect place.”
That defense had pitched the first-half shutout, thanks in part to the defensive line, too. Union was held to 24 yards rushing in the first half. Camas’ Robert Silva was making a bunch of plays.
“We just wanted to play downhill,” Silva said. “They had us pinned back a couple times. We’ll give them that. They earned that. But when it came down to making plays, the coaches called great plays for us. It all panned out the way we liked it.”
The Papermakers got the ball first in the second half and delivered a crushing blow to the Titans: An 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that took nearly six minutes.
Jackson Preston, who later injured his shoulder, won a wrestling match. The Union defender appeared to get to the ball first, but it was Preston who took it away for the 9-yard touchdown pass from Ascuitto.
The undefeated Papermakers were up 28-0 with a quarter-and-a-half to play.
Union’s next drive got into the red zone but Silva and teammates stuffed a fourth-down play. It was the third fourth-down stop of the game for the Papermakers.
Union got on the board in the final minute of the third quarter, a 21-yard pass from Alex Gehrmann to Jake Bowen.
On Union’s next series, a long drive was denied by Camas’ Sebastian Harb, who intercepted a pass in the end zone.
Jackson Clemmer, who also had an interception for the Papermakers, said it was all about the mental approach to the game.
The Papermakers believed, always believed, they were the best team this year, and this was their chance to prove it. Even when Union’s offense found some rhythm, it was up to Camas’ defense to shine.
“We knew we had to play hard and physical and show them what we’ve been working on all year,” Clemmer said.
That would be a league championship.
“That’s what we’ve been aiming for. Now we’re aiming for Week 14,” Clemmer said.
That would be a state championship appearance.
The Titans weren’t done, by the way. They went on a 15-play, 99-yard drive that ended on a Gehrmann-to-Daron Ulrich 13-yard touchdown pass with 1:56 to play. Gehrmann finished with 304 yards passing.
Camas recovered the onside kick, then needed a first down to go into Victory Formation.
Yaacoub broke free on a third-down play for a 16-yard gain, and the home fans erupted.
“Dude, that was a great feeling,” Yaacoub said. “Especially with Union. Just feels so good to get a connection with the crowd. They are such a big part of this game.”
The coaches believe in anyone on the team that has been practicing, preparing, he said.
“They trust us because they make us work so hard. Every day, every hour,” Yaacoub said. “They just ask for hard work. That’s all they ask for.”
In return, the Papermakers have delivered for their coaches, for their school, for their city.
It is an undefeated regular season for Camas.
The Papermakers got their revenge.
Now they are looking for a long playoff run.
Playoff Notes: Camas will host Olympia in a state preliminary playoff next week. The game is expected to be played at 7 p.m. Friday.
Union, which finished 5-4 overall and 2-2 in the 4A GSHL, is the No. 3 seed from the league and will travel to Mount Rainier.
Skyview is the No. 2 seed and will host Federal Way.
CAMAS 28, UNION 14
Union 0 0 7 7 — 14
Camas 7 14 7 0 — 28
C — Tyler Forner 1 run (Bryce Leighton kick)
C — Kenny Wright 54 pass from Blake Ascuitto (Leighton kick)
C — Forner 4 run (Leighton kick)
C — Preston Jackson 9 pass from Ascuitto (Leighton kick)
U — Jake Bowen 21 pass from Alex Gehrmann (Sonny Pitts kick)
U — Daron Ulrich 13 pass from Gehrmann (Pitts kick)
RUSHING: Union — Isaiah Jones 18-98, Marques Cantu 1-(minus 5), Jake Bowen 1-(minus 1), Alex Gehrmann 2-4, Vinh Luong 2-8. Camas — Forner 19-76, Jacques Badolato-Birdsell 5-13, Randy Yaacoub 15-74, Ascuitto 1-(minus 10), Gabe Guo 2-13, Charlie Bump 1-20, Team 2-(minus 14).
PASSING: Union — Gehrmann 25-39-3-304. Camas — Ascuitto 10-14-0-153.
RECEIVING: Union — Bowen 7-103, Cantu 10-94, Tobias Merriweather 2-25, Jones 3-52, Ulrich 3-30. Camas — Bump 4-26, Badolato-Birdsell 1-13, Wright 1-54, Dante Humble 1-4, Jackson Clemmer 1-47, Preston 2-9.
Skyview 56, Heritage 17
South Kitsap 28, Battle Ground 24
Prairie 42, Evergreen 14
Kelso 42, Hudson’s Bay 14
Mountain View 26, Mountlake Terrace 0
Hockinson 47, Ridgefield 25
Mark Morris 28, Woodland 0
Washougal 51, R.A. Long 6
Clarkston 35, Columbia River 20
La Center 42, Castle Rock 39
King’s Way Christian 42, Seton Catholic 7