Football Focus: Camas starts ‘murderer’s row’ of a schedule

Papermakers fall in Week 1 but love a challenge; Central Catholic coach praises Camas

There were so many storylines at just one Friday night football game.

The defending state champions were taking on the defending state champions, even if there is no defending state champion from 2020.

The Washington champs have a new head coach.

The Oregon champs have a longtime head coach who lives in Washington.

Got it?

Oh, it’s football season, alright.

Because wherever you go on a game night, you’ll find storylines. 

Football has the most athletes on a team in a high school sport, which makes for the potential for more personal stories to follow. And it is the most popular spectator sport of the sanctioned high school sports. 

The Camas Papermakers opened their season Friday in Oregon City against Central Catholic. Photo courtesy Laurie Swanson
The Camas Papermakers opened their season Friday in Oregon City against Central Catholic. Photo courtesy Laurie Swanson

So we went to Camas’ game against Central Catholic on Friday for what I called the Northwest’s game of the week, the state champions from 2019. But we also had a colleague go to McKenzie Stadium to watch the state’s feature game of the week, Class 3A No. 1 O’Dea vs. Class 4A No. 2 Union. O’Dea got the win. Union got some experience. McKenzie Stadium also had Mountain View taking on Kentlake in the second game, and Mountain View got a win by holding Kentlake to two points. That is a rare feat.

Prairie let out its frustrations from last spring on Washougal. Ridgefield had no trouble in its opener. La Center came out strong in 1A football. Oh, and up north, Hockinson, with a new coach, lost to Lynden in a close game, two state-power programs going toe to toe.

For most of this season, head on over to Clark County Today’s Facebook page on Saturday morning for quick notes and information from the games we attend. But then check back on Mondays (or the occasional Tuesday like today) for a follow-up report. 

Central Catholic 28, Camas 17

Depending on your point of view, it is one of the greatest non-league football schedules of all time or the one of the most horrific.

Looking for easy wins? Look away. This ain’t it.

Looking for a challenge? The Camas Papermakers are all for it.

So here they are, opening against Central Catholic, the 2019 big-school champion from Oregon with potential NFL talent on its squad.

Next week, it’s Clackamas, a program that won Oregon’s state championship as recently as 2017. 

Later in the season, it’s West Linn. Central Catholic is No. 1 or No. 2 in the state, depending on who you ask. West Linn? No. 1 or No. 2, depending on who you ask.

Also, Jesuit is on the Camas schedule. We’re hearing that Jesuit is “down” this year, but the name Jesuit just means so much in Northwest high school football. Oh, and Tumwater is on the schedule, too, a giant among Class 2A football in Washington.

Congratulations to coach Jack Hathaway. In his first season as the head coach at Camas, he and the Papermakers have that schedule waiting for them.

“Let’s go,” he said after Friday’s loss. 

Instead of asking why such a tough schedule, he asked why not?

“It’s more fun to play the best. A great experience for us down the road. We’ll be better for it regardless of whether we win or lose,” Hathaway said. “I love to compete. That’s the nature of this team, the nature of our program. We want to compete at the highest level. That’s the bottom line.”

Luke Jamison, who scored both of Camas’ touchdowns and also shined on defense on Friday, agreed.

“I get excited,” he said when looking at the schedule. “This is going to be a fun season.”

In the summer or even at a jamboree, the Papermakers took on teams not at the level of Central Catholic or West Linn.

“It’s not nearly as fun as playing a team like (Central Catholic), where it’s a constant battle and everyone is going as hard as they can,” Jamison said. “I’m excited that we get to play all of these tough teams.”

Central Catholic coach Steve Pyne described Camas’ schedule as “murderer’s row.” He applauded the Papermakers. “That’s impressive.”

Central Catholic was pretty impressive Friday night, as well, taking the lead on the first play of the game, returning the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. The Rams got a defensive touchdown in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead. Camas never recovered, but also did not get blown out. In fact, Camas’ defense was stellar, as well. Remember, the Central Catholic offense did not score until the third quarter.

“Lights out,” Hathaway said of his defense.

Jamison said there was a lot of good to come out of Friday’s loss.

“This defeat will be helpful in the long run,” Jamison said. “I think we needed a reality check for our team. Now, it’s just going to make us better in every single way. Practices will be better. We’ll be playing at a higher level. This loss is definitely beneficial to us.”

Hathaway’s message to the players after the game: “Don’t get down on yourself. Let it motivate you.”

Hathaway’s debut

As far as having a new head coach — Hathaway was hired after two-time state champion Jon Eagle resigned to become an assistant coach at Portland State University — Jamison said not much has changed. Defense is the same. Same base offense, with a few tweaks. But from an expectation standpoint, everything is exactly the same around Camas, he said.

Hathaway said he only wished the result was different. He said he didn’t feel that much different as the head coach.

“The sideline felt the same,” he said.

He quickly turned the focus away from him, preferring to talk about the team. 

“This game is over. We’ve got to learn from what we need to learn from and proceed forward,” Hathaway said. “Next week is a new challenge. If we compete and we’re tough and play with great effort, we’re going to be alright.”

Vancouver’s Steve Pyne coaches Central Catholic

On the other sideline was Vancouver resident Pyne, now in his 19th season as the head coach at Central Catholic.

Central Catholic football coach Steve Pyne is a Vancouver resident. Photo courtesy Central Catholic High School
Central Catholic football coach Steve Pyne is a Vancouver resident. Photo courtesy Central Catholic High School

Pyne has had some success against Clark County teams, with victories over Evergreen just after the glory years for the Plainsmen, and a win over Skyview. But Camas got the Rams in the previous two matchups with Pyne as coach.

“Not just got us. Put a beatdown on us,” Pyne said.

So yes, while it might only be Game 1 of the 2021 season, this one did matter to Pyne and the Rams.

“We’ve been playing really good out-of-state teams,” Pyne said, listing programs from Idaho, California, and, of course, Washington. “I don’t ever duck games. I want to see how we match up.”

Camas topped Central Catholic 42-10 and 35-13 in 2016 and 2017.

“At some point in time, people are going to stop scheduling you if you don’t start winning now and then,” Pyne said.

Well, the Rams got their win over Camas this year.

“It was big for us. It was significant that we, as a program, at least took a step affirming that we’ve won our share of games. We’re great for Oregon. But can you step out of your borders and compete against those upper-echelon teams in California or Washington?”

While Pyne the coach focuses mostly on Oregon, living in Clark County, he follows what is going on locally.

He noted the three state championships by Camas and Union since 2016, plus the two from Hockinson at the 2A level. 

“That says a lot about your little pocket down here,” Pyne said. “Having that kind of success is pretty awesome. Credit to those coaches and those communities.”

Electrifying

In case you were wondering, yes, this Steve Pyne is the same Steve Pyne who was in the news in Vancouver a couple of years ago when his family home was struck by lightning.

“It looked like a war zone in there after it exploded. So thankful no one was hurt,” Pyne said. 

The family was out of the house for a little more than nine months. Workers had to strip everything to the studs and start over, Pyne said. 

“That was one of the worst weeks of my life. That, and we lost to Jesuit that week,” Pyne said.

Life got a little better, though.

Central Catholic would go on to win the state championship.

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