As we celebrate the end of the 2016-17 academic year, ClarkCountyToday.com is looking back at the best of high school sports. There were team titles in football, soccer, baseball, swimming, bowling, and track and field. Plus individual representing several schools won championships.
As far as one single day, though, nothing compares to Nov. 19, 2016.
The Camas and Columbia River girls soccer teams each won state championships that day. Meanwhile, Camas, Skyview, and La Center football teams each won quarterfinal games in the state playoffs, giving the county a first: three football semifinalists in the same year.
Months later, ClarkCountyToday.com interviewed one player from each of those five teams. These are their memories.
Maddie Kemp and Ellie Walker are close friends, the kind who love to share their accomplishments with one another.
On this day, though, they were about 45 miles apart. Kemp was with the Camas Papermakers in Puyallup winning the Class 4A state girls soccer title, while Walker was with the Columbia River Chieftains in Shoreline winning the 2A championship.
Hours later, they were hanging out together, back in Clark County, sharing that special Saturday with a celebration that lasted well into Sunday morning.
“Not many people can win a state championship the same day as your best friend on another team,” Kemp said.
“I had a feeling it was Camas’ year,” Walker said. “Then we realized it could be River and Camas. We could both win. It was really cool.”
Football was not going to be overshadowed. It would, however, have to share the spotlight this day. That was just fine with players from Camas, Skyview, and La Center.
“We appreciate their greatness,” Camas football standout Michael Matthews said of the Camas soccer team. “That’s one of the great teams in the country. It made us feel good that the whole school was being dominant.”
Jeremy Scott, one of the stars of La Center’s football team, said he first heard that the Columbia River girls won the title and then got word about the Camas victory.
“We don’t really know the players on those teams but it’s really cool to have schools in our area do so well, representing our area,” Scott said.
Skyview quarterback Brody Barnum said it really did not hit him until the next week in practice, that the Storm were just one piece of one of the most thrilling days in Clark County sports history.
Camas 3, West Valley 0
“I just remember going into the locker room (before the match) and (Coach Roland) Minder telling us this is our time, that we needed to do it for each other,” Kemp said.
Kemp would give Camas a 1-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the match. Considering Camas gave up all of two goals in the season, any lead was a huge lead for the Papermakers.
“The momentum was there for us,” Kemp said.
Camas cruised, adding two more goals for the program’s second state title.
“I remember the huge huddle, singing the fight song,” Kemp said. “Really cool experience to be able to share that moment with my team.”
Soon after that on-field celebration, Kemp and the Papermakers wondered what was going on with Columbia River. Last anyone heard, the Chieftains were in a shootout.
A few minutes later, Kemp got a call from Walker.
“She was crying,” Kemp recalled. “She said ‘We both did it.'”
The Papermakers also learned that the other Papermakers had won, too.
“On the bus, everybody was in disbelief with all the stuff going our way,” Kemp said.
Columbia River 3, Liberty 2 (3-2 shootout)
Emma Fisk made the final save of the match and Walker said she was “the first to book straight to her,” to start the Chieftains celebration.
“It’s still crazy,” Walker said last week, thinking back to that November afternoon. “It’s not hard to believe, but it’s crazy to think it did happen.”
No one from Columbia River was talking state championship at the beginning of the season. It is tough enough just to get out of the 2A Greater St. Helens League.
After surviving league, district, and then the state bracket, Walker knows that this championship will last forever.
“It put something in me to feel complete,” she said.
The Columbia River and Camas soccer matches started roughly the same time. Because the Chieftains went through two overtimes and then a shootout, Camas won first. That just meant Walker and the Chieftains did not have to wait to find out how their friends fared.
“We’ve all played with them at some time growing up,” Walker said, noting the various club teams through the years. “It’s really cool we could both accomplish something like that.”
Camas 28, Skyline 14
Looking back on what turned into a perfect, championship season for the Camas football team, it might be difficult for some fans to believe that this game, this day, was a huge hurdle.
Skyline knocked Camas out of the playoffs the previous fall.
“We had a lot of nerves going into that one,” Matthews said. “That was huge mentally go to back to the same field we lost last year.”
Skyline even took an early lead.
“Once we hit our stride, though, we were on,” Matthews said.
Quarterback Jack Colletto ran for more than 200 yards and a touchdown and threw for three TDs. Cooper McNatt had 106 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
“A lot of kids were crying, we were so happy,” Matthews said. “Oh, it’s on now. We have the chance to win the whole thing.”
The football players quickly learned about the soccer title, too. Later, Matthews found out about Columbia River soccer.
“They won it, too? Holy cow!”
Skyview 35, Lake Stevens 14
The Storm opened the season 1-2 and were 3-3 after six weeks. A five-game win streak got them to the quarterfinals.
“Honestly, there were some of us who didn’t think we could do it,” Barnum acknowledged.
Then they found themselves moving along the bracket.
“We’re one of eight teams left. We really couldn’t believe it,” Barnum said. “Why not win a couple more and have a chance at a ring?’
“We went into the Lake Stevens game with no pressure. We held nothing back. We found ourselves in this position so why not play our best football at the end of the year?”
There was a bonus for the Storm, as well. After two road playoff games, they got to play this one at Kiggins Bowl.
“To be able to go out on a win on our home field, in the quarterfinals, was one of the coolest feelings ever,” Barnum said.
Later that day, Barnum said he texted Matthews of Camas.
“Congrats. Hope we’ll see you in a couple games,” Barnum described the text. “Our goal was to play them again … It’s great to be able to compete against each other but also root for each other.”
Skyview and Camas would not meet again in the finals. Skyview would lose in the semifinals. Still, two Class 4A teams from Clark County reaching the final four made for quite a day.
La Center 25, Mount Baker 13
The Wildcats also got a “home” game for this quarterfinal but it was played in Woodland. No matter. This was a home game.
“Crazy atmosphere,” Scott said. “The whole town was there.”
Scott is a quarterback and defensive back. In this game, it was his defense that remains a special memory. After giving up a long play early in the game that led to a Mount Baker touchdown, Scott had two interceptions in the fourth quarter. The first pick and return set up a touchdown by Jeffrey Mayolo to give La Center a 12-point lead. The second interception sealed the victory.
“I remember looking up at the stands, pointing up to everyone,” Scott said. “The atmosphere was incredible. That was my favorite game of the year.”
Playing in a night game, La Center was the last of the county teams to win that day. Scott said he is proud that the small-school Wildcats could be associated with Skyview, Camas, and Columbia River.
“We have a connection in a way,” Scott said.
The next day, Matthews said he and his teammates talked about that big picture.
“How crazy Southwest Washington sports have been this year, and it was cool to be a part of it,” Matthews said.
Years from now, players and fans will remember Nov. 19, 2016.
“It was just crazy that that many teams could have that success on the same day,” Kemp said.