Football semifinals: Previewing Camas (4A) and Hockinson (2A) in the final four

Camas will play at McKenzie Stadium, while Hockinson will head to Hockinson

Class 4A

No. 11 Mount Si (10-2) vs. No. 2 Camas (12-0)

1 p.m. Saturday at McKenzie Stadium in Vancouver

Last week:
Camas 56, Puyallup 27

Mount Si 24, Lake Stevens 22 

Camas: Let’s take a moment to give a salute to Camas quarterback Blake Ascuitto. When a quarterback of an undefeated team goes down with an injury, there are going to be questions. Jake Blair led Camas to eight wins this season. But he got hurt in the third quarter of the Week 8 victory. Camas did not score again that game. So, naturally, question marks.

Jake Rogers (75) and Mason Boife (7) celebrate during Hockinson’s quarterfinal win over Lakewood. Photo by Mike Schultz
Jake Rogers (75) and Mason Boife (7) celebrate during Hockinson’s quarterfinal win over Lakewood. Photo by Mike Schultz

Well, with a full week of practice, Ascuitto and the Camas offense scored the first 28 points to defeat the defending state champions in Week 9 and won the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League. 

Since then, Camas has won three playoff games by scores of 48-13, 41-0, and 56-27.

Yes, the offense is very much clicking. 

Ascuitto has nine touchdown passes in his four starts.

This is Ascuitto’s senior season, too, which just makes his story even more special. He was behind Blair, a junior, on the depth chart but clearly remained focused on his job, preparing himself for the possibility of playing.

Now he is the starting quarterback for a final four team. 

No question about that.

Mount Si: The Wildcats are looking to win this week and they hope to get another shot at Woodinville in the finals. Woodinville, playing in the other semifinal, beat Mount Si 7-3 in September.

Mount Si and Camas have one common opponent and a common outcome. Mount Si beat Skyview 31-26 and Camas beat Skyview 21-17. 

Among the team’s best wins has to be last week’s 24-22 victory over Lake Stevens. Lake Stevens made it to the championship game last year and was undefeated this year.

Clay Millen passed for 275 yards and three touchdowns in the win. According to the team’s MaxPreps page, Millen is completing 72 percent of his passes this season with more than 2,900 yards. He has 33 touchdowns and one interception. 

Yep, that’s good. 

The Wildcats spread it around, too. They have seven players with more than 200 yards receiving. Brayden Holt leads the team with 51 catches for 811 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

History: This is Camas’ fifth trip to the state semifinals, all this decade. The Papermakers won it all in 2016. Also in 2016, Camas won the semifinal at McKenzie Stadium.

This is the 10th state appearance for Mount Si and first since 2013. The Wildcats made it to the semifinals in 2012. 

Back in 2006, Mount Si beat Camas in a state playoff game.  

Computers: ScoreCzar froze that computer’s rankings after the state field was set. He had Camas at No. 3 and Mount Si at No. 9. Evans Rankings, which adjusts after every week, now has Camas at No. 1 and Mount Si at No. 7. 

Welcome Mount Si: For football fans, Mount Si would have been better off playing at Doc Harris Stadium. Don’t get me wrong. McKenzie Stadium is a fine facility for a state semifinal. It’s just that Camas’ Doc Harris Stadium is a special environment. Still, at McKenzie, there is plenty of parking and plenty of covered seating on both sides of the field. I do hope the Camas band will be there Saturday to welcome Mount Si fans with the Mount Si fight song. 

Class 2A 

No. 4 Hockinson (11-1) vs. No. 1 Tumwater (12-0)

4 p.m. Saturday at Tumwater Stadium

Last week:

Hockinson 29, Lakewood 28

Tumwater 48, Archbishop Murphy 0

Hockinson: This has been an incredible run for the Hockinson Hawks. No, not the back-to-back state titles. Not the 38 wins in the past 39 games. (OK, those are incredible, too.) But what truly has been special has been watching this team refuse to die.

Camas quarterback Blake Ascuitto has thrown nine touchdown passes in his four starts this season. Photo by Kris Cavin
Camas quarterback Blake Ascuitto has thrown nine touchdown passes in his four starts this season. Photo by Kris Cavin

The Hawks trailed 24-7 in the state semifinals last year. And won.

The Hawks trailed 24-7 in the state championship game last year. And won.

The Hawks trailed 15-7 at halftime in the state’s opening round this year. And won.

And the Hawks trailed for most of the game last week in the quarterfinals, including a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter. And won.

That is four consecutive state playoff games that the Hawks have trailed at the half and won. 

Which leads us to Saturday’s game against Tumwater. 

If the Thunderbirds get up early on the Hawks, it is not over. Tumwater better be prepared for a 48-minute battle.

Tuwmater: As far as battles go, can’t really call Tumwater battle-tested. The team has not had a close game since September. Of course, that’s a credit to what some are calling one of the best teams in program history. Hard to come up with a clear definition of the best team in Tumwater history, though. But if this team is among the best, that’s saying something. 

The T-Birds average 51 points per game. 

History: Hockinson’s history remains its present. The program has won 10 consecutive state playoff games. Undefeated in 2017. Undefeated in 2018. One loss during this regular season. The Hawks have won 38 of their past 39 games.

While the Hawks have a tremendous recent history, Tumwater has a fantastic present and past. This is the 30th state playoff appearance for the program, which includes five state championship and four other state title game appearances. 

Hockinson beat Tumwater in the 2017 state championship game. 

Computers: ScoreCzar has Tumwater No. 1 and Hockinson at No. 2. Evans Rankings has Tumwater at No. 1 and Hockinson at No. 3.  

Home: While many Hockinson fans are not thrilled with the idea of playing Tumwater at Tumwater’s own stadium, it has to be noted that there has never been a rule that a semifinal game must be at a neutral site.

Teams from the east part of the state have known this for years.

On the west side, it never really mattered much for years. West teams played in the Tacoma Dome for the semifinals. That changed in 2016, though, when the WIAA took the semifinals out of the dome.

In fact, that first year, Camas made it to the semifinals and was initially told it would host a semifinal game at Doc Harris Stadium. Instead, La Center also made it to the semifinals that year, and the WIAA chose, wisely, that if Clark County were to host a doubleheader, it could not be at Doc Harris. The game were moved to McKenzie Stadium.

Last year, Union made it to the semifinals and hosted the game at McKenzie Stadium, it’s home field. Also, Woodinville played on its home field in the semifinals last year.

Now, is Tumwater big enough to handle a home crowd and a Hockinson crowd? Guess we’ll find out. 

Just wanted to point out, though, that a team playing a true home game in the semifinals is not unprecedented.

About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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