Camas preview: Time for a change

Camas' DiGenova steps into varsity role, new league

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

Camas Papermakers

Coach: Jon Eagle.

2011 record: 11-2, 6-0 3A GSHL. Played in state semifinals. (Note: Camas is now a Class 4A team.)

Key players: John Norcross, sr., te/lb; Drew Clarkson, jr., ol/dl; Michael DiGenova, jr., te/lb; Jason Vailea, jr., rb/dl; Zach Eagle, jr., wr/db; Nate Beasley, jr., rb/db; Coltin Dowd, sr., te/lb; Reilly Hennessey, jr., qb; Dylan White, jr., wr/db; Connor Maloney, sr., wr/db; Adam Dawson, jr., rb/lb; Matt Walser, jr., ol/dl; Jorden Payne, jr., wr/db; Vincente Huber, sr., rb/lb; Roldan Alcobendas, sr., k/p.

Season outlook: Jon Eagle said the transition to 4A should be smooth because the Papermakers have played 4A schools in non-league games for years. “We want to compete for a league championship,” Eagle said. “We know and respect the teams in our league. We hope to be one of the best teams in one of the best leagues in the state. I like the competition.”

2012 SCHEDULE

Aug. 31 at Oregon City

Sept. 7 Canby

Sept. 14 Auburn-MtView

Sept. 21 at Lakes

Sept. 28 Skyview*

Oct. 5 Evergreen*

Oct. 12 at Union*

Oct. 19 at Heritage*

Oct. 26 Battle Ground*

  • — 4A GSHL game

Home games played at Doc Harris Stadium

Coming Monday: Heritage

CAMAS — Things are about to change for Camas junior Michael DiGenova.

Instead of getting on the field long after a game has been decided, the Camas coaching staff expects DiGenova, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound outside linebacker, to be one of the players who helps decide a game.

"I wasn't ever a big-time, play-time guy," DiGenova said. "I wasn't enough to make a difference. We usually had a 20- or a 30-point lead first."

That was then.

This year, DiGenova should be on the field when it's zero-zero, and it's all on the line.

Camas, known for stingy defense led by strong linebackers, has another potential breakout performer.

"For what we do in our defense, he's prototype," Camas coach Jon Eagle said. "He's exactly what we're looking for. Size. Speed. Strength."

A lot of DiGenova's strength went away temporarily at the end of his sophomore year when he was stricken with mononucleosis and missed most of spring drills and team camp.

"It was awkward because you're sitting on the sidelines and you definitely want to be out there," DiGenova said. "Going from JV to varsity is pretty big."

And he was missing valuable practice time.

He never lost confidence, though. He was there as much as he could be, interacting with his coaches, learning without being on the field. The coaches assured him there would still be a spot for him in the lineup when he returned to action.

"As he's gotten healthy, he's really started to bulk up," Eagle said.

DiGenova also relied on prayer to get him through the tough days. That's something he used last season when he was a sophomore on the scout team, and he still uses today to withstand the 100-degree practices.

"Faith helps a lot," DiGenova said. "Talking to God, He'll give you strength."

Plus, DiGenova does not want to let down his teammates.

"They're all great guys you want to hang around," he said.

In fact, DiGenova seemed a little unsure of being singled out as a "player to watch" for the 2012 season.

"We have a lot of impact guys on our team," he said.

DiGenova does not take the time to consider what it would be like to make the all-league team. He does not want to think about how many tackles he is going to make this season.

"I haven't really set any personal goals. My goal is just for the team," DiGenova said.

For the team to do what?

"To win."

While DiGenova is moving from reserve to key contributor, Camas also is making a big change. The Papermakers, winners of the past two Class 3A Greater St. Helens League titles, are in the 4A GSHL now along with perennial powers Skyview and Union.

"It will be different, but once you get on the field, at the end of the day, it's just more football," DiGenova said.

And this year, he will be on the field a lot more.

"I pretty much figured I'd get my time," he said. "I just had to keep myself going. On the scout team, you get bullied around by the starters. There are times when you just want to lose faith. You just stick it out and pray about it."