TACOMA — One of the most commonly used adages in football is, “defense wins championships.’’ The Camas Papermakers provided the latest example of why those words are so often uttered in the sport.
Camas headed into its Class 4A state championship game against Richland at the Tacoma Dome Saturday with a season-long offensive performance that headlines are made of. The Papermakers entered the title game averaging 45.8 points in their first 13 games. However, facing a Bombers’ defense that had posted four shutouts this season, Camas turned to its stingy defense to claim a 24-14 victory that completed a perfect 14-0 season for the Greater St. Helens League champions.
“Kudos to our defense; they did a great job tonight,’’ Camas coach Jon Eagle told ROOT Sports after his team’s victory. “Every time we needed a play, they made a play.’’
The state title avenges the Papermakers’ loss to Chiawana in the 2013 state championship game. It also gives Camas its first state football title and just the second in the history of the Class 4A GSHL. “Unbelievable,’’ Eagle told ROOT Sports when asked after the game how the state title felt. “I’m so happy for our kids and our community. It’s awesome.’’
Camas senior Jack Colletto provided the exclamation point on the Papermakers’ performance on both offense and defense. With 2:39 remaining in the game, Colletto raced 34 yards for a touchdown that provided Camas with a two-score lead over Richland (13-1). On the Bombers’ next possession, Colletto intercepted a pass with 1:01 remaining in the game to end Richland’s final offensive threat. “It feels so great,’’ Colletto told ROOT Sports after the game. “I’m so proud of my team for everything they’ve done, all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears. I’m very proud of everybody from this community.’’
Colletto helped Camas post a 10-7 halftime lead. He gave the Papermakers an early 7-0 lead when he hooked up with Cooper McNatt on a 35-yard pass play with 9:02 remaining in the first quarter. Camas didn’t score again until the final play of the first half when Michael Boyle booted a 34-yard field goal to give the Papermakers the 3-point advantage heading into the locker room at halftime. It was Boyle’s sixth made field goal in seven attempts this season.
In the first two quarters, Camas rushed for just 29 yards on 19 carries. Colletto completed 11 of his 16 passes in the first half for 147 yards. In the second half, Camas turned the game over to its running game and its defense. The Papermakers gave up just one score in the final two quarters, it came on Richland’s first possession of the third quarter and it gave the Bombers a 14-10 lead. Camas running back Will Schultz snatched the lead back for the Papermakers with a 38-yard scamper around the left end to put Camas up 17-14 with 4:58 left in the third quarter.
The Papermakers dominated the remaining 17 minutes of the game with their defense and run-oriented offense. “Our mentality was to go to what got us there,’’ Colletto told ROOT Sports. “Our run game has been very successful for us in the fourth quarter this year. Our offensive line has a lot of heart.’’ After rushing for just 29 yards in the first half, Camas gained 127 yards on the ground in the second half.
The Papermakers converted 23 first downs in the game, 12 on rushing attempts. Colletto finished with a game-high 88 yards rushing on 17 carries. Schultz added 51 yards on just two carries. Colletto completed three of his four passing attempts in the second half to finish 14-for-20 for 184 yards. Drake Owen led Camas with seven catches for 75 yards. McNatt added four receptions for 66 yards. Isaiah Abdul added an interception for Camas.