No letting down for Camas

Doesn't matter the opponent, Camas remains focused

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter



CAMAS — Postseason honors are among the benefits for a team that wins a league title. A championship team might get a player of the year. Maybe two.

The Camas football team got three.

Nate Beasley and Zach Eagle were voted the co-players of the year on offense for the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League by the league’s coaches. John Norcross was tabbed the player of the year for defense.

Here’s the thing: Not one of those players thought they did anything special to warrant individual accolades. They are appreciative of the honor, but they insist there are others on this team just as worthy.

“People ask me who are the star players on our team. Every player,” Beasley said. “I could not single out one player who was not as good or not of the same quality of player as everyone else on the team.”

In other words, the left tackle or the right guard is as good at his position as Beasley is at running back.

“We have a number of different weapons,” said Eagle, a wide receiver. “If we get the running game going, it helps us get open. If we’re passing the ball, it opens the running game.”

The Papermakers (10-0) hope to have it all going again tonight when they host Arlington (5-5) in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs. Kickoff at Doc Harris Stadium is set for 6 p.m.

With quarterback Reilly Hennessey behind center, with Eagle and Beasley making so many plays, the Camas offense is averaging 48 points per game.

Defensively, Camas is giving up 15.4 points per game. More impressive, 67 percent of the points scored against the Papermakers this year have come after Camas has led by 30 or more points.

“We’ve got the right players at the right spots on the field. We’re all playmakers,” said Norcross, an inside linebacker. “Any one of our players on defense could have been named defensive player of the year. We complement each other with our strengths and weaknesses.”

Together, there are very few weaknesses. The defense is relentless, by design.

This week, the Papermakers are taking on Arlington, a team very few thought would win last week. Of course, that means some fans automatically count this week as a win for Camas.

Norcross said the coaches will not allow for that kind of thinking. Not this week. Not against weaker opponents in the regular season. Against anybody.

“Our approach every game is we’re going up against a faceless opponent,” Norcross said. “It doesn’t make a difference whether it’s Arlington or Kentwood. Arlington got there on their own sweat. They’re going to put up a big fight.”

Even if Arlington does find a way to score on Camas, Arlington will still have to find a way to slow down Camas.

Eagle leads Southwest Washington in receptions with 56, and has 801 yards with seven touchdowns. Beasley has rushed for 935 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has five more receiving TDs.

Neither one had any individual goals to begin the season.

“It was cool for both of us to have the award together,” Eagle said. “It’s good for our school and good for our team.”

Beasley was not sure what to expect from himself until he unleashed a 231-yard rushing performance against Skyview, the second-place team in the league, in Week 5.

Then again, he did not really know what to expect from the team, either. Camas reached the Class 3A state semifinals last year but lost a lot of talent to graduation. A new team and a new classification, there were question marks.

Then the squad underachieved at team camp this summer.

Beasley said that was an eye-opener. The Papermakers did not have all of their starters due to injuries, but it was a little scary.

“We were made aware that we could be bad, and we had to work as a team to become successful,” Beasley said.

“It’s a building process,” Eagle said. “Some teams come in super good but don’t get any better. We just continued to get better.”

So far, better means perfect.

With that, the Papermakers got a lot of postseason honors.

Beasley, Eagle, and Norcross say they would be really honored with a few more playoff victories with their just-as-deserving teammates.