The Camas Papermakers are still the top squad in the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League.
The Columbia River Chieftains showed they have some fight in them, as well.
The Papermakers were the dominant team, especially in the first half, Friday night at Columbia River High School, picking up a 38-14 victory.
Camas (3-0) improved to 2-0 in league play, off to a fast start in their quest for a second consecutive title.
“I’m just so happy we can pull these W’s out,” Camas linebacker Kyle Goodnow said. “We’ve played two great teams so far, and we held our own. That really says something. I’m proud of this team.”
Quarterback Tony Gennaro threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and Zack Marshall was a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, leading the Camas offense.
The Camas defense allowed very little in the first half. River’s first-quarter touchdown came in a short-field situation after a Camas turnover to open the game, and the Papermakers held the Chieftains (2-1, 1-1 GSHL) to two first downs in the opening two quarters.
“We let in that first touchdown, but then we regrouped, came back, and held it together,” Goodnow said. “Unity is key on defense. I felt like we had that tonight.”
The Papermakers scored the next 24 points to take command — touchdown runs from Marshall and Genarro, and a pass from Gennaro to Marshall and a field goal from Roldan Alcobendas. The TD pass went for 26 yards on a fourth-and-5 situation.
The signature play for the Camas defense was a group-effort stuff of Columbia River running back Remick Kawawaki on the 1-yard line on the final play of the first half — keeping the score 24-6.
That missed opportunity proved costly for the Chieftains, who scored first in the second half on a Dennis Henderson touchdown. The two-point conversion made it a 10-point game.
The Chieftains were set to get the ball back when Camas’ John Norcross scored on a 42-yard run, converting on a fake punt on fourth-and-12 in the first minute of the final quarter.
“They had the momentum, and we didn’t want to give them the ball,” Camas coach Jon Eagle said of the call.
Norcross credited Dalton Debord, Goodnow, and Anthony Fallin for the blocks that sprang him for the surprise touchdown. The play looked like it fooled 10 of the 11 Chieftains on the field. Norcross just had to avoid the punt returner to get in the end zone.
“As soon as I got the ball, it seemed like the whole field opened up for me,” Norcross said.
Camas capped the scoring with a 24-yard pass from Genarro to Jonathan Warner with 56 seconds left in the game.
Columbia River coach John O’Rourke said the two fourth-quarter scores by Camas made the game look less competitive than it was, especially that final-minute score.
“We wanted our kids to come out and give us 48 minutes of effort, and I think they did that,” O’Rourke said.
Gennaro and Marshall thought so, too.
“It was tough. They were dang good,” said Marshall, who rushed for 60 yards on 20 carries against the Chieftains defense that was set up to stop him.
“I’d like to give a shout out to Columbia River,” said Gennaro, who was 13 of 20. “They have a lot to look forward to the rest of the year.”
Quarterback Clayton Frank led the Chieftains with 88 yards rushing. Kawawaki had 67 yards with a touchdown on 12 carries.
Columbia River got off to a fast start by recovering a muff on the opening kickoff, setting up at Camas’ 14-yard line. That led to Kawawaki’s 1-yard run and 6-0 lead.
The Papermakers, though, got the next four scores on the way to their eighth consecutive league victory dating back to last season, proving once again that they remain the class of the 3A GSHL.
CAMAS 38, COLUMBIA RIVER 14
Camas 10 14 0 14—38
Columbia River 6 0 8 0—14
CR — Remick Kawawaki 1 run (kick blocked)
Cam — Zack Marshall 4 run (Roldan Alcobendas kick)
Cam — Alcobendas 30 FG
Cam — Tony Gennaro 1 run (Alcobendas kick)
Cam — Marshall 26 pass from Gennaro (Alcobendas kick)
CR — Dennis Henderson 4 run (Clayton Frank run)
Cam — John Norcross 42 run (Alcobendas kick)
Cam — Jonathan Warner 24 pass from Gennaro (Alcobendas kick)
RUSHING — Camas: Marshall 20-60, Gennaro 12-57, Norcross 1-42, Vincente Huber 3-16, Nate Beasley 3-11. Columbia River: Kawawaki 12-67, Clayton Frank 21-88, Henderson 2-11, Jonathan Branson 2-9, Darius Raiford 1-2.
PASSING — Camas: Gennaro 13-20-1-182. Columbia River: Frank 9-18-0-57.
RECEIVING — Camas: Jonathan Warner 3-60, Marshall 5-51, Zach Eagle 1-38, John Norcross 3-24, John Payne 1-9. Columbia River: Dennis Henderson 6-51, Thomas Jacobson 1-4, Eli Evenson 1-3, Trey Walker 1-(minus-1).