TACOMA — The state semifinals started so well for the Camas Papermakers.
Two quick touchdowns.
A defensive stand.
They had all the momentum.
Then Max Browne happened.
Rated by many as the best high school quarterback in the country, Browne pretty much ended any argument with a near-perfect performance.
Browne completed 29 of 32 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns, leading Skyline of Sammamish back to the Class 4A state championship game. The Spartans (13-0) scored 44 consecutive points through the middle part of the game to advance to their sixth consecutive title game with a 51-28 win Saturday.
Camas (12-1) had to settle for its second semifinal appearance in as many years.
“I’m so proud of this team,” Camas quarterback Reilly Hennessey said. “The guys worked their butts off, day-in and day-out. It was just so fun to be able to experience this with these guys.”
“I still have to give props to our team for having a good season,” said Camas defensive lineman Jason Vailea, who had two sacks. “We played our best. Skyline is just a very good team. They just pulled it off.”
For a few minutes, the Papermakers had their fans believing that this was going to be their first year in the state championship game.
Nate Beasley scored on a 24-yard touchdown run on the first drive of the game. Zach Eagle got behind the defense for a 94-yard touchdown reception from Hennessey to make it 14-0 seven minutes into the game.
The Spartans, however, scored the next 24 points to take a 10-point lead at halftime. Three quick touchdowns in the third quarter made it a runaway for Skyline.
“We jumped on them early, but as good teams do, they responded,” Eagle said. “We kept fighting. It just didn’t go our way. That’s life. That’s how it happens sometimes. We kept fighting, though. We never gave up.”
In fact, the Papermakers would get the next two touchdowns. A short TD run from Hennessey followed by a 24-yard pass to Eagle made it 44-28 with 10 minutes left to play. Camas’ defense forced a three-and-out, and the Papermakers had the ball, trailing by 16 with 8:13 left in the game.
Skyline’s defense bounced back by forcing the fifth Camas turnover of the game, ending any hope of a dramatic comeback.
“It was frustrating,” said Hennessey, who had a 300-yard game but also was intercepted four times. “I’m a little bit disappointed in myself, but I get to learn from this experience. That’s exciting.”
The Spartans threw six touchdowns passes against a defense that had given up just 16 points per game all season. Browne got four, while wide receiver Matt Sinatro threw two TD passes to Nic Sblendorio on trick plays.
Skyline’s Andrew Giese returned an interception 30 yards for the team’s other touchdown. Kicker Sean McDonald made a 47-yard field goal just before the half.
The loss ruined a special day for Eagle, who finished with 15 catches for 224 yards and two TDs.
“I was just trying to move the ball, score some points and get back in the game,” he said.
Hennessey completed 23 of 36 passes for 306 yards, with two touchdowns against those four interceptions. Beasley rushed 19 times for 138 yards and his touchdown.
In all, the Papermakers put up 463 yards of offense. Yet still lost by 23 points.
Browne completed his first 12 passes. He was 20 of 22 in the first half for 279 yards. Sblendorio caught eight balls for 192 yards and three touchdowns. The Spartans finished with 539 yards of offense.
“He is one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Camas coach Jon Eagle said of Browne.
The coach also was impressed with Skyline’s defense. The Spartans gave up a lot of yards, but they were in position for those interceptions.
“They made some good adjustments on defense. We weren’t able to do things we wanted to do,” the coach said. “We wanted to keep the rhythm, the mojo up, and we weren’t able to do that.”
Moments after the game, Eagle told his players that although the third-place trophy was not want they wanted, they will come to appreciate the hardware.
“Your community, your family, your coaches, your school are so proud of you guys,” he said.
SKYLINE 51, CAMAS 28
Camas 14 0 7 7–28
Skyline 7 17 20 7–51
Cam — Nate Beasley 24 run (Roldan Alcobendas kick)
Cam — Zach Eagle 94 pass from Reilly Hennessey (Alcobendas kick)
Sky — Nic Sblendorio 7 pass from Matt Sinatro (Sean McDonald kick)
Sky — Austin Bui 14 pass from Max Browne (McDonald kick)
Sky — Sblendorio 34 pass from Browne (McDonald kick)
Sky — McDonald 47 FG
Sky — Sblendorio 49 pass from Sinatro (McDonald kick)
Sky — Cedric Cooper 27 pass from Browne (McDonald kick)
Sky — Andrew Giese 30 interception return (pass failed)
Cam — Hennessey 2 run (Alcobendas kick)
Cam — Eagle 24 pass from Hennessey (Alcobendas kick)
Sky — Trevor Barney 23 pass from Browne (McDonald kick)
RUSHING — Camas: Beasley 19-138, Vincente Huber 3-39, John Norcross 3-5, Hennessey 8-(minus-25). Skyline: Cooper 17-110, Browne 9-(-13).
PASSING — Camas: Hennessey 23-36-4-306. Skyline: Browne 29-32-0-386, Sinatro 2-2-0-56.
RECEIVING — Camas: Eagle 15-224, Norcross 3-27, Michael DiGenova 2-23, Beasley 2-20, Connor Maloney 1-12. Skyline: Sblendorio 8-192, Sinatro 6-78, Giese 6-70, Cooper 6-45, Barney 4-43, Bui 1-14.