Papermakers rewarded with home game in semifinals

CAMAS — A feat like Camas just accomplished in the Class 4A state high school football playoffs deserves a reward. And, the Papermakers got exactly that.

Camas, ranked No. 1 in the latest Associated Press state 4A poll, traveled to meet perennial power Skyline in last week’s quarterfinals and the Papermakers came away with a 28-14 road victory they will likely be telling their grandchildren stories about years from now.

“For us to go up to Skyline and come away with a win; that’s a pretty big deal,’’ said Camas coach Jon Eagle. “That’s a pretty tough place to play. Over the past decade, those guys have dominated our state.’’

Camas Papermakers Football
Camas quarterback Jack Colletto (9) was the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League Offensive Player of the Year this season. The senior will lead the Papermakers into their state semifinals playoff game Saturday against Sumner at McKenzie Stadium. Photo by Mike Schultz

There’s no exaggeration in Eagle’s sentiments. Skyline ended the Papermakers’ season a year earlier with a 35-10 loss in the quarterfinals. The Sammamish school went on to finish second in the state in 2015. Skyline won the state Class 4A title in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 and also finished second in 2010.

So, what does Camas get for slaying the giant on its own home field? The Papermakers have the opportunity to play a semifinal game in Clark County. Camas will meet Sumner on Saturday at 1 p.m. at McKenzie Stadium in Vancouver.

“I think it’s great for Clark County,’’ said Eagle, whose team advanced to the semifinals in 2013 when they had to play in the Tacoma Dome. “It’s huge, huge. Someone asked me if I was going to miss playing the game in the Tacoma Dome. If I had never coached in the Tacoma Dome maybe I would want to be in the Tacoma Dome. But, we get to get in a school bus and drive 10 minutes to the game. That’s awesome for us.’’

Eagle’s teams have been knocking on the door of a state title ever since he took over the program in 2008. He was an assistant coach with the Papermakers for four years prior to becoming the head coach. Camas heads into Saturday’s game with a 12-0 record. It’s the seventh consecutive season that Camas has won at least 10 games. It’s also the sixth time in the last seven years that Camas as advanced at least as far as the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.

“Leadership is a pretty important component,’’ said Eagle, who added, “it’s been exceptional this year.’’

Eagle said that after his team accomplished the feat of winning at Skyline, his players celebrated for a moment but then their focus turned to “what’s next.’’

“Some  teams would have celebrated like that’s the biggest thing that was going to happen to us this year,’’ Eagle said. “We celebrated for one minute, but then it was let’s go get the next one.’’

The veteran coach also pointed out that, even with playoff teams, a lot of times high school players can get burned out when the calendar gets to late November.

“These guys don’t get tired of the grind,’’ Eagle said of his players. “I think a lot of kids lose that energy this time of the year. They’re tired of playing, tired of going out in the rain and the  cold. These kids are not tired of playing.’’

Sumner, also 12-0 on the season, advanced in the playoffs with a 58-42 win over Monroe in the first round of the playoffs and then followed that with a 16-13 win over Woodinville in the semifinals.

“They’ve got good size and they’ve got a lot of skilled-player talent,’’ Eagle said of the Spartans, who have averaged 42.2 points per game this season. “We’ve played 12 games and we’ve held 10 of those opponents to 14 points or less. The two teams who scored more than that were the teams (Coeur d’alene and Battle Ground) who had college-type quarterbacks. Sumner’s quarterback is a good quarterback but he’s not on that level.

“As always, we want to be able to control the run,’’ Eagle said. “If we miss a tackle they could be gone. We’ve got to play great run defense and we’ve got to be able to play the ball in the air.

In the win over Skyline, Camas quarterback Jack Colletto ran for 209 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown run. The senior also threw for three touchdowns as well. Colletto was the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League Offensive Player of the Year this season.

“We’re going to try to run the ball with our quarterback,’’ Eagle said. “He’s always going to be a threat. So, we will try to get our running game going and try to create some big plays for our pass offense.’’

Senior Cooper McNatt caught six passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns in the win at Skyline.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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