CAMAS — Prairie went to Camas on Friday without its top gun.
So the Falcons needed to play a clean game to have a shot to derail the Papermakers’ march toward a league title.
That did not happen.
With quarterback Colin Seitz sidelined because of a concussion suffered one week earlier, Prairie did not have enough firepower to overcome early mistakes as Camas took a significant step closer to a second consecutive Class 3A Greater St. Helens League championship.
The final score was 35-6.
But other than a first quarter that saw the opportunistic Papermakers rush to a three-touchdown lead, the game at Doc Harris Stadium was not one-sided.
“We’ve got to really step it up the next couple of weeks and play a lot better than we did tonight,” said Camas quarterback Tony Gennaro, who threw for 188 yards and two touchdowns.
Though in control from the opening kickoff, when they recovered a Falcons fumble, the Papermakers described their performance against Prairie as sub-par. There were three Camas turnovers, a couple of big penalties and several missed tackles.
“I think we could have done much better,” Camas defensive lineman Kamari Brown said. “Tackling for one. Getting all 11 hats on the ball carrier.”
Camas (4-1) took advantage of three early breaks to build a 21-0 lead eight minutes into the game.
It started with a fumble on the opening kickoff. The Papermakers needed six plays to cash in — four of them runs from Zack Marshall, who scored on a 19-yard dance up the middle.
An interception and 14-yard return by Camas’ Chris Galusha set up a three-play, 39-yard drive capped with an 11-yard catch and run by Zach Eagle.
The Papermakers covered the ensuing onside kickoff — Coach John Eagle said they saw an opportunity on film and went for the onside kickoff — and went 48 yards in eight plays for their third touchdown. That march included two big third-down completions by Gennaro: a 22-yard connection with Brown and a 26-yard hookup with Jonathan Warner. Nate Beasley went 7 yards through the middle for that score.
The Papermakers added a pair of touchdowns on drives covering 35 and 45 yards in the third quarter to clinch the victory. Prairie’s points came on a 1-yard fourth down run by Jesse Zalk in the final quarter.
With gunslinger Seitz sidelined, junior Preston Brooks threw for 41 yards and was intercepted three times. But the Falcons (2-3) relied much more than usual on their running game, and Prairie rushed for 112 yards.
“(Brooks) came in and did a really good job,” Camas coach Eagle said. “They had a good running game that we weren’t prepared for.”
Camas linebacker Kyle Goodnow said the defense had to adjust for the Prairie ground game.
“We struggled a little bit with stopping the run, but we’ll come back and be better,” Goodnow said. “We’ve done it in the past.”
With Friday’s win, Camas has cleared most of its big hurdles to a league title. But the coach and his players were clear that this team is not close to being what it should be.
“Prairie competed very well, and we’re not playing as well as we can, and I don’t know why,” Eagle said. “I think we lack leadership. We have to realize that you don’t get very many chances to play on Friday night.”
Gennaro gave Prairie credit for brining the fight to Camas.
“Prairie was a really good football team,” the Papermakers’ quarterback said. “But we could have played better tonight just by playing fearless, relentless football. Doing our assignments a lot better and playing with emotion.”
CAMAS 35, PRAIRIE 6
Prairie 0 0 0 6— 6
Camas 21 0 14 0—35
Cam — Zack Marshall 19 run (Roldan Alcobendas kick)
Cam — Zach Eagle 11 pass from Tony Gennaro (Alcobendas kick)
Cam — Nate Beasley 6 run (Alcobendas kick)
Cam — John Norcross 8 pass from Gennaro (Alcobendas kick)
Cam — Beasley 2 run (Alcobendas kick)
Pra — Jesse Zalk 1 run (kick failed)
Rushing — Prairie: Jesse Zalk 10-57, Tyler Duncan 9-22, Preston Brooks 10-(minus 2), Colton Prestwich 4-36, Tyler Vea 1-4. Camas: Zack Marshall 14-98, Nate Beasley 10-30, Tony Gennaro 3-(minus 2), Adam Dawson 2-4, Jared Borja 2-(minus 2).
Passing — Prairie: Preston Brooks 8-14-2-41, David Taylor 0-1-1-0. Camas: Gennaro 11-17-2-188, Reilly Hennessey 2-4-0-37.
Receiving — Prairie: Zalk 3-14, Veda 4-24 Ansel Cecil 1-3. Camas: Jonathan Warner 3-39, Zach Eagle 3-63, Marshall 1-14, John Norcross 2-15, Kamari Brown 1-22, John Payne 1-35, Jorden Payne 1-18, Dylan White 1-19.