Undefeated Camas to meet Heritage Thursday

Papermakers have now won 56 straight regular season games

Camas Papermakers (6-0, 3-0 4A GSHL)

Week 1: Camas 35, Central Catholic (Ore.) 13

Week 2: Camas 34, Sherwood (Ore.) 12

Week 3: Camas 52, Davis 19

Week 4: Camas 28, Coeur d’Alene 25

Week 5: Camsa 35, Battle Ground 0

Week 6: Camas 38, Skyview 20

Heritage vs. Camas, 7 p.m. Thursday at Doc Harris Stadium

The Papermakers survived another challenge to the most incredible streak in Southwest Washington high school football history. This was win No. 56 in a row during the regular season.

Ryan Rushall (8) was a standout on offense and defense in the Papermakers’ victory over Skyview last week. Photo courtesy of Kris Cavin
Ryan Rushall (8) was a standout on offense and defense in the Papermakers’ victory over Skyview last week. Photo courtesy of Kris Cavin

Winning a close one:

OK, officially, this will not be seen as a “close” game. Years from now, people will just look at the score. Oh, an 18-point game. Not a blowout, but not close. Well, those of us who were there know it was close.

Close, but at the same time, Camas was never out of control in this one. Honestly, a strange one to describe.

Skyview got a lot of yards. Skyview got to the Camas quarterback more than enough for Camas’ liking.

However, Skyview also never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead after Trevor Bentley’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown to make it 14-0.

Skyview scored, then Camas scored. Skyview scored again. Camas scored again. Skyivew TD. Then Camas FG.

That is how a championship team responds. Skyview had plenty of moments. Camas made sure those moments did not change which team was winning the game, from start to 

My favorite moments:

If you recall from our season previews, Skyview wide receiver Cole Grossman said he hated Camas. Also, if you recall, it was said in the proper context. He doesn’t really hate any one person associated with Camas. He hates the fact that Camas owns Skyview and every other team in the league. He hates any team that beats his team.

Well, it was clear Friday that Grossman has a lot of respect for Camas. And the Papermakers have a lot of respect for Grossman.

Throughout the first half, Grossman would make a catch and a long gain and Camas’ Isaiah Abdul would be there to congratulate him on the play. Grossman had a huge half, with 168 yards receiving.

Grossman was held to one catch in the second half. And on one incomplete pass, with Abdul all over Grossman, it was Grossman congratulating Abdul on the coverage.

My point: Athletes can “sports hate” other teams, but they also can love and respect each other as individuals. The best of the best (and Grossman and Abdul are among the best at what they do) appreciate all it takes to get to their level of play.

After the game, Abdul was gracious again.

“We tried to prepare for him all week. He’s 6-5. He’s a monster. He got me in the first half,” Abdul said. “I felt better with my play in the second half. We adjusted very well.”

During the game, the two started talking to each other. Not trash talking. Seriously, just talking.

“We were getting to know each other. He’s a great guy,” Abdul said. “I definitely respect Cole and Skyview and how they play.”

Rushall does it all:

I am convinced Ryan Rushall is one of the best football players in the region. I am not saying he will be a league MVP. Not saying he is going D-I. Just saying that every time I see him play, he makes three or four plays that completely change a game, whether it’s on offense or defense.  I’ve seen him chase down running backs from 30 yards away. I’ve seen him make the clutch catches.

Friday against Skyview, he once again did it on both sides of the ball.

He did not score against the Storm, but he scored big-time for the Papermakers, early and late.

In the first quarter, he made a diving catch on third-and-goal from the 10, getting Camas to the 1-yard line. Next play, Semisi Schultz scored a touchdown.

Fast forward to the second quarter, Camas is up 21-14, and quarterback Kyle Allen looks for Rushall again. This one was a fantastic throw in between two defenders, with Rushall the only possible candidate to catch the ball. Rushall did with an amazing diving effort for a 29-yard gain, setting up an Allen-to-Drake Owen touchdown and a 28-14 lead at the half.

In the fourth quarter, Skyview went for it on fourth down. Rushall read the play, broke for the ball, and swatted it away just prior to the ball getting to the Skyview receiver.

Camas went three-and-out on its next series but the punt crushed Skyview’s field position, and the Storm never recovered from that Rushall defensive gem.

QB appreciates what he’s got:

Allen threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns Friday.

Drake Owen caught nine passes. Plus Rushall had his moments.

“They’re incredible,” Allen said. “Like I say every week, they make me look better. Rushall’s catch down the middle was huge. We really needed that.”

The streaks:

We know the regular-season streak is now at 56 games. The overall streak is now at 20 after Camas went 14-0 last season and the first six this season. Oh, and the Papermakers have not lost a league game since 2009.

Going forward, Camas has a home game this week against Heritage. (The Timberwolves did lead Camas at the half last season, but realistically, nobody outside of Heritage expects Camas to fall this week.) Then there is a non-league game against Sunnyside. And in Week 9, the challenge will be a very good Union squad.

Bentley said the players know better than to get caught up in the hype.

“Just gotta keep working and focus on the next week,” Bentley said. “Hard practices. Keep your mind set on that. Can’t be complacent.”

My night:

For the first time in my career, I helped with the live broadcast on television, the analyst for Vancouver Public Schools’ telecast.

I had some good moments, as well as some embarrassingly bad ones. But I had fun.

There were technical difficulties early so the announcers could not be heard in the first two series of the game. That meant there was no real introduction for us in the booth and it made for an awkward beginning.

I stumbled over my words a few times.

But then I found a bit of a groove.

My best moment: When I pointed out that Skyview’s Cole Grossman and Camas’ Isaiah Abdul were lined up against each other, the best vs. the best. The exact play I noted them, Skyview threw to Grossman, who used his height advantage to come down with the ball for a long gain.

Later, I tried to laugh it up a few times while describing a play. You know how we do that in a conversation? Well, it sounds terrible during a broadcast. I gotta get better.

Overall, I’d give myself a C, maybe a C+ because it was my first performance. Not sure if I’ll do it again, but I had a blast.

Stats suffered:

OK, you know I love taking football stats. But that first half was a disaster for me. With the difficulties before we went on the air, to the first few series during the game when the telecast was on but not us announcers, it got a little hectic while trying to chart the game. Tried to get caught up at halftime, but later, I realized I had missed charting a few plays.

So my stats were way off at halftime. Believe I got most fixed by the end of the game for my story, but because I’m obsessed, I went back and recharted the game later Friday night.

And then on Monday, I watched the game again. My numbers should be solid now on the game story from Friday night.

Coach Speak:

What did Jon Eagle think of the win over Skyview? “We beat a very good team in Skyview. Great schemes by them — gave us problems. Our QB took a beating but continued to make big plays. What a leader. If he’s not tough, we don’t win.

“Defenses always plays hard and physical and made big plays in the second half to secure the win. Our special teams continues to be a strength for us. Andrew Boyle has been lights out on kicks and punts. Our coverage and return game has been very good.”

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